Amnesty says punishing perpetrators only way to prevent future rights abuses

Source – January 12, 2023
Umbrellas at Kamisan action reading 'Jokowi owes a pledge' – Undated (cipdh)

Singgih Wiryono, Jakarta – Amnesty International Indonesia insists that the only way to prevent human rights violations from happening again is by trying the perpetrators in court.

This was conveyed by Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid in response to a statement by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo who acknowledged that 12 gross human rights violations had taken place in Indonesia.

"We wish to remind the Indonesian government that ending impunity through prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators is the only way to prevent the repeat of human rights violations", said Hamid in a statement on Thursday December 12.

"And (also) provide truth and genuine justice to the victims and their families", he reiterated.

Hamid said that the perpetrators must face legal proceedings and not be allowed to evade prosecution. "Let alone be given positions in government institutions", he said.

According to Hamid, the government must immediately investigate, prosecute and try the perpetrators if President Widodo is committed to preventing a repeat of gross human rights violations.

In addition to this, Hamid also criticised Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs Mahfud MD who said that in previous cases perpetrators of abuses have been tried but set free due to a lack of evidence.

This is because, according to Hamid, perpetrators being set free by the courts prove that gross human rights violations in Indonesia are not being seriously addressed.

"Because, the institutions that have the authority and are under the direct authority of the president, namely the Attorney General's Office, have in fact not seriously looked for evidence through a criminal investigation", said Hamid.

Earlier, Widodo stated that gross human rights violations have indeed occurred in Indonesia.

This was conveyed after receiving a report from the Team for the Non-Judicial Resolution of Past Gross Human Rights Violations (PPHAM) at the State Palace on Wednesday January 11.

"I have carefully read the report on gross human rights violations from the PPHAM that was formed based on Presidential Decree Number 17/2022", said Widodo.

"With a clear mind and earnest heart, I as Indonesia's head of state admit that gross human rights violations did happen in the past", said Widodo.

The president then claimed that he deeply regretted these violations.

"I have deep sympathy and empathy for the victims and victims' families. Therefore, first of all, the government and I are trying to restore the victims' rights in a fair and wise manner without negating a judicial settlement", he said.

Widodo then cited 12 cases of past gross human rights violations:

1. The 1965-1966 mass killings
2. The Mysterious Shootings (petrus) in 1982-1985
3. The Talangsari incident in Lampung, 1989
4. The Geudong House and Sattis Post incidents in Aceh, 1989
5. The forced disappearances of activists in 1997-1998
6. The May 1998 riots in Jakarta
7. The Trisakti and Semanggi I-II incidents in 1998-1999
8. The murder of shamans in 1998-1999
9. The Simpang KKA incident in Aceh, 1999
10. The Wasior incident in Papua, 2001-2002
11. The Wamena incident in Papua, 2003
12. The Jambo Keupok incident in Aceh, 2003

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Amnesty International: Hukum Pelaku Pelanggaran HAM Berat Satu-satunya Cara Mencegah Peristiwa Terulang".]