Rights activists want Truth and Friendship Commission disbanded

Detik.com – August 28, 2006
Indonesia-East Timor Truth and Friendship Commission (Antara)
Indonesia-East Timor Truth and Friendship Commission (Antara)

M. Rizal Maslan, Jakarta – Disappointment. This was how human rights organisations greeted an extension to the mandate of the Truth and Friendship Commission (KKP) by the governments of Indonesia and East Timor. They also called for the KKP to be disbanded because they say its mandate is unclear.

“We are calling on the governments of Indonesia and East Timor to disband the KKP, and implement the principles and international norms in the context of human rights and justice, along with being pro-active in responding to the results of the United Nations report”, said Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) coordinator Usman Hamid at a press conference at the Kontras offices on Jl. Borobudur in Menteng, Central Jakarta.

Also present at the press conference were representatives of the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), the Institute for Public Research and Advocacy (Elsam), the Indonesian Center for Democracy and Human Rights (Demos) and the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI).

According to Hamid, the extension of the KKP’s mandate further tarnishes Indonesia’s commitment to upholding human rights. Moreover the extension will also attract adverse international attention, including from the UN secretary general.

In addition to this, after one year the KKP has yet to explain who exactly has been questioned or to say who perpetrated the gross human rights violations in East Timor following the 1999 referendum. “This indicates a lack of accountability and transparency within the KKP”, exclaimed Hamid.

He added that the existence of and extension of the KKP’s mission goes against the spirit and substance of the UN secretary general’s report to the UN Security Council, which said that the international nature of such crimes means that the perpetrators cannot receive clemency or amnesty.

Meanwhile under the terms of reference for the formation of the KKP, it still stipulates amnesty will be guaranteed to perpetrators of human rights violations that admit their guilt. This puts the KKP in contradiction with the basic principles of the law and international norms.

“In addition to this the KKP is not accountable and transparent with regard to its budget that was taken from the state budge. This has also not been explained”, added Hamid.

The KKP was form to reconcile past human rights problems between Indonesia and East Timor related to human rights violations following the referendum in East Timor in 1999 and signed formally by the two governments on March 9, 2005. Since its formation, the KKP has received a cold reception from rights organisations. (nvt)

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski compiled from two articles posted on the Detik.com news portal on August 28.]