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Candidates Vow to Promote Human Rights Issues

Sumber: THEJAKARTAGLOBE.COM | Tgl terbit: Jumat, 13 Maret 2009

Farouk Arnaz

A sitting lawmaker and three candidates contesting the upcoming legislative elections pledged on Thursday to increase the powers of the National Commission for Human Rights should they win seats in the House of Representatives.

The commission, or Komnas HAM, is limited to conducting preliminary investigations and recommending that the Attorney General’s Office investigate specific human rights violations.

“The fact is that the AGO has never prosecuted suspected perpetrators, using a variety of excuses for not doing so. We should give more power to the commission,” said Firman Jaya Daeli,
a candidate from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P.

Firman, speaking during a discussion at the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, or Kontras, said Komnas HAM should be given powers similar to those of the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK.

“The KPK can do everything, from investigate to prosecute. The commission should also be granted the same powers.”

The AGO has long been criticized for its ongoing failure to build successful prosecutions from Komnas HAM’s investigations into incidents including the Semanggi I and II tragedies in Jakarta in which, according to the commission, 18 student protesters were killed in two clashes with police; the Talang Sari massacre in Lampung Province in which soldiers fired on villagers during a demonstration, killing 130 people; and the Tanjung Priok massacre in 1984 in which the Army killed 23 protesters during a clash over the implementation of Shariah law.

The AGO has also taken heat for failing to bring to court widespread abuses in Papua and Aceh Provinces, as well as during the military occupation of East Timor.

All of those cases involve the Indonesian Armed Forces, or TNI.

Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, a candidate from the United Development Party, or PPP, called on all stakeholders, including nongovernmental organizations, to help revise the country’s Human Rights Law.

“We will back every necessary step to solve the cases, including revising the human rights law,” Lukman said.

“Never give up. I will try to support the new human rights law if I get elected,” he promised.

Faisol Reza, a candidate from the National Awakening Party, or PKB, went a step further. The former student activist, one of nine survivors out of 22 pro-democracy activists kidnapped in 1997-98 during the reform movement, said that if elected, he would resign if he could not promote human rights and bring those responsible for the disappearances to justice.

“I cannot forget what happened to me or my friends, some of whom are still missing today,” he said.

The AGO, House of Representatives and National Police have demonstrated an almost complete unwillingness to resolve the issue.

Koster Rinaldi, a candidate from the Reform Star Party, or PBR, said he would try to make human rights a priority on his agenda if elected.

So far, the commission is finalizing a revised draft of the human rights law.

They will pass the final revised draft to the House for its consideration.



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