Press Release
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Declining Political authority in the National Commission on Human Rights in Indonesia (Komnas HAM), Challenging to look for new members of Komnas HAM
(Briefly notes on the election of new candidate Commission member 2012 to 2017)[1]

The National Commission on Human Rights in Indonesia (Komnas HAM), as the one institution presents to complete the state's device under a democratic country based on Law no. 39 of 1999 on Human Rights and Law no. 26 of 2000 on Human Rights Courts. Komnas HAM has duty and authority to bring cases of alleged human rights violations into a legal process. Under the Law no. 39 of 1999 on the National Commission on Human Rights article 76:3 states that the Commission has functions and authorities carry out an investigation and examination of the events that occur in a society based on the nature or scope of human rights violations are suspected. Under the Law no. 26 of 2000 on Human Rights Court article 18 states that Komnas HAM conducts the investigation of human rights violations.

Referring to the function and authority of Komnas HAM, it is clear that Komnas HAM presents as a vanguard to cover up a number of cases of human rights violations, in fact Komnas HAM is an institution to bring justice for victims of human rights violations. As state institution, Komnas HAM is only a small element of human rights system in national level that requires simultaneous commitment of all its organs.

Recently, Komnas HAM is going on process of recruiting new members for period 2012-2017, however based on KontraS' experience in dealing with a number of human rights cases during 2007-2012, we assess that the political authority of Komnas HAM has declined in some issues related to the case of past abuses and civil political rights.

In past abuses, a number of notes related to the declining of performance of members in the last period as follows:

Firstly, the absence of a significant breakthrough for the settlement of past human rights abuses. It can be found in the investigation of pro justicia for the case of 1965/1966,[2] the mysterious shooting incident and past abuses in Aceh[3] and Papua[4] especially during military operation.

Secondly,the lack of alternative step or a breakthrough when the Attorney General refused to conduct the investigation by various political reasons such as in the case of Semanggi I, Semanggi II, May 1998, Enforced Disappearances in 1997/1998[5], Talangsari and Wasior Wamena. Regarding the fulfilment of justice for victims in the Court of Human Rights in East Timor and Tanjung Priok, Komnas HAM also did not take any efforts as a breakthrough.

Although, the Team for Settlement of gross human rights violations occurred in the past was established, unfortunately there is no follow up conducted by Komnas HAM in order to link up the team and a number of problem investigation that stopped in level of Attorney General. The team was established after meeting between President SBY and member of Komnas, which President appointed the Minister of Political, Legal and Security Affairs to set up a team with a mandate to find the best format for settlement of past abuses. However, Komnas HAM appeared to be enjoying with such solution of non-judicial mechanism considering the existence of political realities.

Meanwhile, the absence of respond and creativity in dealing cases also notes in the civil and political sphere:

Firstly, the lack of strategy for the settlement in the conflict of Agrarian and natural resources have positioned Komnas HAM as fire fighter in dealing the case. In fact, Komnas HAM has been enjoy in focussing the internal mechanism in the Police and military institution without being able to encourage for an independent investigation of the case, as been seen in the case of Alas Tlogo in East Java, Tiaka in Central Sulawesi, Bima in East Nusa Tenggara and others. Meanwhile, Komnas HAM is not progressive to follow up the instruction coming from the president to set up a team under the Ministry of Political, Legal and Human rights in order to settle the conflict of Agrarian and natural resources.

Secondly,lack of strictly attitude in dealing issue of Religious Freedom. Violence as result of discrimination or violence against religious freedom has increased with various pattern of violence. In large incidents, Komnas HAM was unable to provide recommendations on human rights violation. Komnas HAM is supposed to be able to provide strategic recommendations to the government related to the improvement of human rights perspective to the issue of religious freedom and to streamline law enforcement against the perpetrators.


Thirdly, lack of efforts in encouraging the reform of accountability the police and military institutions. From period January-November 2011, Komnas HAM received 4.502 cases of torture[6], which mostly Komnas HAM did not follow up especially for the individual cases. Related to the case of Puncak jaya, Papua and Charles Mali in NTT, Komnas HAM conducted monitoring and investigation, then it recommends the punishment under the military court which those perpetrators got lenient punishment. This recommendation could not reform at all the system of punishment under the internal mechanism.

Fourthly,lack of attention in protecting the acts of freedom of expression and violence in Papua. The problems of political discrimination for Papuan people become a justification for violence and human rights violation committed by police/military and again, Komnas HAM trapped to respond per case. When Komnas HAM conducted investigation --the case of Papuan People Congress III--, its recommendation is too minimize which has no impact for the policy changes. Komnas HAM involved in a team for peace in Papua should be in line with strategic role in order to encourage the reform of security management in Papua that has contribution to produce discrimination and human rights


Considering a series of evaluation above, it is clear that the challenges for upcoming members of Komnas HAM would be bigger than before. The election for upcoming members must require strong and empower members under the criteria of integrity and bravely to protect, enforce and promote of human right; have a victim’s perspective; not involve human rights crime; has capacity to settle human rights violations particularly in the past abuses, which is still pending in the Attorney General, Parliamentary and President; able to maximize the authority of pro-justicia investigation; able to find a breakthrough; able to have creativity to combat impunity in the cases of human rights violation and able to build relationships, good cooperation, independent and equal to other state agencies.

[1] On 14 of february 2012, the selection committee of Komnas HAM announced the people who come through as result of administrative requirements. There are 275 of 363 registrar who passed with percentage 13% women and 87% men.

[2] The Investigation team for the case of 1965/1966 is the longest team conducted by Komnas HAM

[3] Komnas HAM has established an ad hoc team for Aceh, but it is only followed up to set up a research team

[4] Related to the past abuses in Papua, Komnas HAM has just conducted a research during military operation and it is not clear what follow up of the action is.

[5] The progressive steps appear only on the initiative to issue a Certificate of Status for Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Of course, this effort should be political pressure to ask the state authorities to look for and bring back them who dissapeared.

[6] National Commission report 2011