Commemorating the International Justice Day 2020

Today, we commemorate the International Justice Day as the historic adoption of the Rome Statute on July 17, 1998. It marks the importance the continuity in fighting against impunity and bringing justice for the victims of human rights violations. Hence, the Commission for the Disappeared and the Victims of Violence (KontraS) would like to highlight the importance of the implementation of transitional justice to redress the legacies of human rights violations in Indonesia.

To date, we still face the difficulties to fight against the impunity and urge the government of Indonesia to uphold transitional justice. Both in domestic and international measures, the government does not show the sincerity and the willingness to address past human rights violations and the impunity that accompanies it. At the United Nations Security Council, the Indonesian representative to the United Nations Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani, on 13 February 2020 stated that the transitional justice process should be forward-looking. He said that the process is not only about addressing past grievances but also lay the foundation for reconciliation and rebuild trust in society. However, the concept of transitional justice cannot be interpreted in a small piece called reconciliation and rebuilding trust in society as such.

The transitional justice consists of both judicial and non-judicial processes and focuses on a comprehensive approach of four aspects: the right to truth, the right to justice, the right to reparation, and the guarantees of non-recurrence of violations. But before Indonesian government addresses about laying the foundation for reconciliation and talks about transitional justice in front of the UN Security Council Chamber, it shall evaluate within and acknowledge that transitional justice in itself is not carried properly:

First, the victims have the right to truth. They deserve to know about the truth behind human rights violations. But in reality, the truth-seeking initiatives indicated a shift toward protecting powerful figures and institutions for since 2015 the government emphasizes reconciliation without accountability of revealing the truth of some gross human rights violations to the victims and society;

Second, the right to justice itself is to ensure that those responsible for committing human rights violations are tried in accordance with international standards of fair trial and punished. The passage of Law 26 of 2000 provided the National Commission on Human Rights with the power to conduct inquiries, determine whether gross human rights violations were committed, and recommend investigation and prosecution to the Attorney General Office. However, when many findings were made, the Attorney General Office did nothing, claiming that the files were administratively incomplete. Even if such cases made it to the judicial proceedings, of the 34 people charged in various cases, only 18 were convicted and even they were later acquitted on appeal, producing a zero percent conviction rate;

Third, the government shall deliver the reparation programs with providing a range of material and symbolic benefits to victims that include monetary compensation, medical and psychological services, health care, educational support, the return of property or compensation for loss, official public apologies, building museums, and memorials, and establishing days of commemoration. Yet this right to reparation is also implied, as the government gives a lack of support and implementation that undermined legal reform and establishment of mechanisms;

Finally, the institutional reform is needed to guarantee the non-recurrence of violations, as it enables post-conflict and transitional governments to prevent the recurrence of future human rights violations. Even so, in the security sector, the government shows the unwillingness of reforming the Indonesian National Armed Forces and the Indonesian National Police by appointing two active soldiers and three active police officers to become the commissioners in each state-owned enterprises in this year as one would know this practice should be deserted since the reformation. In addition, in the justice system reform, the government shows another unwillingness to uphold justice as we witness recently in Novel Baswedan case – a fighter for corruption – how the court allowed the police giving legal assistance for the defendant (also policemen) who pour sulfuric acid in result Mr. Baswedan’s blindness and other anomaly in the trial. Also the problem of corruption and brutality of law enforcement officers and inadequate prison conditions.

The status of Indonesia as a non-state party to the Rome Statute has such an effect on enforcing the system of international justice. Indonesian citizens are exposed to the possibility of human rights violations, and the government’s indifference over the enforcement of the rule of law on international law and human rights is concerning. Therefore, we would like to urge the government of Indonesia to:

  1. Ratify the Rome Statute as it ensures the upholding and protection of the human rights of all global individuals;
  2. Protect, respect, and fulfill the rights of the victims of human rights violations to ensure the implementation of transitional justice; and
  3. Ensuring that security and justice system reforms are carried out according to justice and truth rather than merely an extension of political interests.