Jakarta – National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) commissioner Choirul Anam says that the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) could forcibly summon Agum Gumelar over his admission about the abduction and forced disappearances of pro-democracy activists in 1998.
“In the human rights schema, the Attorney General can forcibly summon Pak [Mr] Agum to come in for questioning”, said Anam when he appeared as a speaker on the CNN Indonesia’s television program Trusted Election Screen on the evening of Wednesday March 13.
Anam said that Gumelar’s admission is interesting because it’s something new, referring to the presidential advisory council (Wantimpres) member’s claim that he knows about the activists who were murdered and disposed of.
According to Anam, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo must take responsibility for Gumelar’s admission because of his status as a member of the Wantimpres. “How should it be followed up? Yeah, form a team. A presidential team right now to find out where they are”, said Anam.
Anam also asserted the Gumelar’s admission gives rise to legal consequences and in the scheme of upholding human rights, the Attorney General can forcibly summon Gumelar to come in for questioning.
The Attorney General has the authority to issue such a summon because he currently has possession of the investigation dossier on the abductions and forced disappearances of pro-democracy activists in 1998.
“Or in the context of criminal [law], he is a person who has direct knowledge about a crime, moreover Pak Agum was a person who held a position of authority in the case. Leaving out the debate over whether it is legitimate or not, he is a person who held a position of authority at the time. He can be asked to take responsibility for this”, said Anam.
“In the Criminal Code there is a clause [which states] that a person who is a public official, a state official, a PNS [state civil servant], has an obligation to report crimes and the like. In this the police can also take action if it’s in the context of an ordinary crime”, he added.
Anam said furthermore that the stalling of the 1998 abduction case has been influenced by the positions taken by the president, the House of Representatives (DPR) and the Attorney General. In other words, all three have played a role in causing the case to mark time.
In the case of the DPR, said Anam, the people’s representatives have already issued a recommendation from the Missing Person’s Commission but never kept control of the recommendation.
“For example, the DPR has already summoned the Attorney General several times. Asking ‘how about this recommendation’ for example”, said Anam.
President Widodo has also played a role in causing the cases to stall because he has never questioned the Attorney General about what follow-up there has been in the legal process.
“In this context it can indeed be seen that this has all contributed to the case having stalled. If we want to put this case in the context of our need for justice, for example in terms of justice for Pak Prabowo [Subianto] so that he’s not continually accused [of responsibility for the abductions] in the political context this could be put forward. Test it in court. This has never been done right”, said Anam. (wis)
Between 1997 and 1998 as many as 23 pro-democracy activists were abducted by members of the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus). After extended periods of detention – in many cases the victims were severely tortured – most were released although 13 remain missing and are presumed dead. Former Kopassus commander Lieutenant General Prabowo Subianto, who was dismissed from the military in 1998 over the abductions, has admitted to ordering the abductions but denies ordering their torture and claims they were all released alive and well. The issue resurfaced on March 11 after presidential advisor Agum Gumelar, a former Kopassus commander and a member of the Officer Honorary Council which dismissed Prabowo, claimed that he knows the fate of the missing activists and that Prabowo should be held accountable for the disappearances.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Komnas HAM: Kejagung Bisa Panggil Paksa Agum Gumelar”.]