Attorney General establishes special team to settle 13 cases of gross human rights violations

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The Attorney General’s office has formed a special team to accelerate the legal processing of 13 alleged gross human rights violations in Indonesia. Its establishment followed President Jokowi’s instruction to accelerate the settlement of past human rights violations during a meeting on 10 December 2020, the International Human Rights Day. The team consists of 18 Attorney General staffers who should identify legal shortcomings for each of the cases and overcome the long-lasting discord between the Attorney General’s office and the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM). Komnas HAM has carried out investigations into all 13 cases. However, the claims were never processed by the Attorney General’s office, arguing that the case files were incomplete.

Junior Attorney General for Special Crimes, Ali Mukartono, declared in an interview with media outlet Tempo that the team will provide inputs and recommendations to Komnas HAM to complete the case files for further processing through the Attorney General. Among the 13 cases of alleged gross human rights violations are three cases which occurred in West Papua, namely the cases in Wamena (4 April 2003), Wasior (13 June 2001) and Paniai (8 December 2014). The remaining ten cases refer to multiple incidents between 1965-1966, the Talangsari Case (1989), the unrests on 13-15 Mei 1998, the enforced disappearance of activists (1997/1998), the Trisakti Case, the Semanggi I and Semanggi II Case, the Simpang Kertas Kraft Aceh (KKA) Case, the Jambu Keupok Case, the Rumah Geudong Case and the Dukun Santet Killing (1998).

Papuan human rights observers reacted sceptically towards the establishment of the special team. They argue that existing laws on national human rights mechanisms already clearly define both institutions' roles and responsibilities and provide a sufficient legal framework for the settlement of gross human rights violations. Moreover, the special team was given no time frame for the fulfilment of their task.  

The national mechanism for legally processing cases of genocide and crimes against humanity is stipulated in Law 22/2000 on human rights courts. According to the sections four and five of the law, Komnas HAM has the mandate to investigate a case. In contrast, the attorney general examines the inquiry report and submits it to a human rights ad-hoc court, if the files fulfil the legal requirements for a trial.

Human rights observers argue that Indonesia’s national human rights mechanism is not functioning because the Attorney General is unwilling to initiate the trial process. Since 2002, nine cases files have been passed back and forth between Komnas HAM and the Attorney General’s office without any progress.