Indonesia must ratify convention on forced disappearances

Kompas Newspaper – August 31, 2013
Pictures of missing activists abducted in 1998 (ELSAM)
Pictures of missing activists abducted in 1998 (ELSAM)

Jakarta – The Indonesian government is being called on to ratify the International Convention on Enforced Disappearance of Persons. At the United Nations Hearing on Human Rights last month, the Indonesian government through the human rights director at the Home Affairs Ministry, Muhammad Anshor, said that the document or draft ratification has already been submitted to the House of Representatives (DPR).

“So, we are waiting on the government and the DPR to ratify it soon”, said Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Coordinator Haris Azhar when asked about the commemoration of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on August 30 in Jakarta on Friday.

The other task for the government and the DPR, said Azhar, is to include an article on the enforced disappearance of persons in the amendments to the Criminal Code (KUHP). In terms of outstanding cases, Indonesia still has a backlog of cases that need to be resolved such as the abduction of activists in 1997-1998, the case of Aceh and the disappearance of Aristoteles Masoka (the driver of murdered West Papuan independence leader Theys Hiyo Eluay). The legal process into these cases has been halted.

From London human rights organisation Amnesty International urged the Indonesian government to stop postponing the establishment of a human rights court to try those responsible for the abduction and forced disappearance of 13 political activists in 1997-1998.

Amnesty International campaign spokesperson for Indonesia and East Timor, Joseph Benedict, in a press release said that the continuing failure to investigate these crimes is perpetuating human rights violations and contributing to a wider culture of impunity.

Bennedict wrote said that the families of the political activists that were disappeared in 1997-1998 continue to demand that the government uncover the truth about what happened more than 15 years ago. The disappeared activists that are still missing are Sonny, Yani Afri, Ismail, Abdun Nasser, Dedi Hamdun, Noval Alkatiri, Wiji Thukul, Suyat Herman Hendrawan, Bimo Petrus Anugerah, Ucok Munandar Siahaan, Yadin Muhidin and Hendra Hambali.

Azhar believes that the government is not following up on the recommendations of the 1997-1998 case and Masoka’s disappearance in November 2001. Moreover in the Aceh case the state has done nothing at all.

Amnesty International also highlighted the issue of the formation of a truth commission and mechanisms to find the missing persons. According to a 2012 report, the United Nations Working Group on Forced Disappearances has information on 162 reports that have yet to be resolved in Indonesia and 428 cases that have yet to be resolved in East Timor over the period 1975-1999. (ONG)

[Anti-Penghilangan Paksa: RI Harus Ratifikasi Perjarliian – Kompas. Sabtu, 31 Agustus 2013. Translated by James Balowski.]