Activists doubt Mahfud’s appointment will resolve past human rights cases

KBR – October 25, 2019
Activists hold 605th Thursday action in front of State Palace – October 10, 2019 (Antara)
Activists hold 605th Thursday action in front of State Palace – October 10, 2019 (Antara)

Valda Kustarini, Jakarta – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has appointed constructional law expert Mahfud MD as the new Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs (Menko Polhukam).

Despite this, Mahfud’s appointment may not guarantee that the government will soon solve cases of past gross human rights violations.

Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) advocacy division head Muhammad Isnur says that Mahfud’s job at the Ministry for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs (Kemenko Polhukam) is a non-technical and non-specific one, unlike the Justice and Human Rights Minister (Menkum HAM) or the Attorney General.

“The Menko Polhukam is not as powerful as the Menkum HAM in the executive. So it would be impossible for the president to delegate him as the minister to disuses it with the DPR [House of Representatives]. The one who would be delegated would be a technical minster, such as the Minister of Justice and HAM, the Minster for PAN RB [Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform]. So don’t put it on the Menko’s shoulders but on the president’s”, said Isnur at the offices of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) in Jakarta on Thursday October 24.

Isnur also believes that it will be difficult for Mahfud because there are ministerial positions which are held by people alleged to have committed human rights violations.

Isnur is therefore urging that solving past human rights cases be supported by a commitment from the president.

He is also urging President Widodo to issue specific and serious order to resolve past human rights cases, for example by ordering the Attorney General and the related ministries to fully investigate past human rights cases.

“The ball is in the president’s court, his instructions must be explicit”, he said.

In response to Prabowo Subianto being appointed as Minister of Defense, Isnur feels pessimistic that past cases of human rights violations in Indonesia will be uncovered.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Meski Mahfud MD Masuk Kabinet, Penyelesaian Kasus HAM Tetap Berat”.]