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OPINI
Mr. President, no more business as usual, please!

Sumber: THEJAKARTAPOST.COM | Tgl terbit: Rabu, 21 Oktober 2009

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, may I sincerely congratulate you on your re-election. My fellow countrymen and women have put their trust in you as the elected President for the upcoming five years.

In the campaign period, you made various promises particularly on the supremacy of law and human rights. I fully share your belief that human rights should always be the essence of the development of humankind, now and in the future. In the first decade of reformasi, we were all confronted with impunity on past human rights violations committed by the previous regime.

This second decade is bringing us new challenges: the free market economy is faced by global financial crises. Internationally and at home, the protection of human rights is under threat.

The main foundation of human rights is justice. The principle of justice, according to John Rawls, is rights and liberties. In his distinguished work, A Theory of Justice, Rawls discussed the classical problems in modern political theory, i.e. issues about the basis for civil liberty, the boundaries of political obligations, and of justice in the economic system as well as inequalities between members of society. In addressing these issues, Rawls held to the main principle in his political theories that the civil and political rights of the individual must not be violated.

The first principle of Rawl's concept of justice believes that each person is to have an equal right to the total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all. This is usually referred to as the principle of equal liberty, which is required to guarantee basic liberties: freedom of thought, conscience, speech, and assembly; the right to vote and hold public office, the right to hold personal property, and the right to protection from arbitrary arrest.

Mr. President, you have improved conditions in Aceh with the Helsinki peace accords and people now can live in liberty. You have kept Indonesia's diplomatic stance friendly to human rights via the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

However, for the last five years, some principles of human rights have been eroded by regulations or policies discriminating against the constitutional rights of the people, such as the erosion or negation of freedom of worship in the case of the Ahmadiyah, discrimination against women in some provinces, imposition of the death penalty and degrading punishments, restrictions on the work of human rights activists and of vulnerable groups such as LGBTI (on sexual freedom) or the pursuit peaceful expression in Papua.

The vital role of civil society should be noted in the next administration in order to strengthen justice and to ensure a well-balanced approach between the implementation of your constitutional mandate, the maintenance of the integrity of national laws and respect for the diversity of nationhood. Past injustice is the root cause of disrespect for civil rights and liberties.

This means that we still must come to terms with the past. Your administration has declared its commitment to resolve cases of gross human rights violations, but so far it was not successful. In your second and last term, you and Boediono have to take firm actions and measures to prosecute the existing cases of international crimes.

For instance, will the ratification of the Rome Statute continue to be postponed? Concerning the recent parliament's proposal for the establishment of an ad hoc Human Rights Tribunal on the enforced disappearance of activists in 1997-1998, will you approve this?

Will you take into account the other three recommendations from the parliament such as to discover the fate and the whereabouts of the disappeared, to provide victims (or their relatives) with reparations and to ratify the newly adopted UN Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

You promised to resolve the murder case of human rights defender Munir and you should not fail to deliver this in your next term. As you said, this is "a test of our history".

The second principle of justice allows social and economic inequalities as long as they are to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged. This principle also demands fair equality of opportunity for all. Such equality does not only mean equality in work opportunities but also in opportunities for living. Citizens similarly endowed and motivated should have the same opportunities regardless of their social class.

Let me highlight some issues related to justice in the existing economic system.

Mr. President, your promise on the revitalization of agrarian policies has not been fulfilled. Indonesia's unfinished agrarian reform has continued to result in human rights violations, such as violence against and criminalization of poor farmers in Blora, Semarang and Cilacap, in Central Java, and Sulawesi and forced evictions in Riau, Sumatra.

The issuing of large numbers of licenses by central and regional/local governments, for example for HPH (forest concessions), HTI (industrial forest concessions), mining and oil & gas licenses, and also for commercial-scale fishing and plantations, that these have resulted in strains between local people, companies and the government, and even in human rights violations. Up to 2008, according to WALHI, there have been around 576 palm plantation conflicts. These trends have led to poverty, lost income, loss of houses and properties as well as impaired living quality of local people.

We urgently need the National Committee for Agrarian Renewal (KNPA) to be established. It should have the full mandate to prepare a legal basis and the institutional authority to implement genuine agrarian reform.

Further strategic measure should be taken as mandated in the People's Consultative Asselmbly (MPR) Decree No. 9/2001 on agrarian reform and natural resources management providing the people, including women, with access to and control of the natural resources management, energy and food sovereignty.

In the case of the mudflow in Porong, Sidoarjo, your administration has been criticized for being indecisive with law enforcers in not confiscating Lapindo's assets in order to ensure the payment of indemnities and fulfillment of the basic rights of Lapindo victims, particularly women and children who have been ignored, and to immediately carry out the steps for the closing of the mud blowout and to protect the environment.

In this case, affected communities should have unconditional access to a bridging fund in respect of PT Lapindo obligations to restore all lands and buildings.

Mr President, a number of states place Indonesia as the leading country in ASEAN on human rights. However, we have not been able to protect our migrant workers' rights. Your Manpower Minister has failed to seriously protect our workers particularly women migrant workers working overseas in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Tens of thousands of migrant women are vulnerable to violence and discrimination.

There should be a solid policy framework to fully respect, address and implement the rights of migrant workers, who are contributing so much to Indonesia's gross national development. Relevant ministries and embassies in both sending and receiving countries should coordinate and share responsibilities in order to provide an integrated service center to protect migrants, including shelter facilities.

It will be essential that Indonesia ratifies the UN Convention on Migrant Workers and puts the rights of migrants firmly on the agenda of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission for Human Rights (AICHR). At a national level your good offices can inspire all responsible for adopting a Legal Aid Bill which will respect and implement legal aid to all people, including those who are less fortunate, having less or no access to existing justice channels.

In conclusion, in a human rights-based approach to development, many challenges lay ahead. Civil society organizations are very willing to engage in and take forward a human rights dialogue with your administration. The people of Indonesia need a firm position in support of fairness and justice. Therefore, your administration must have people with outstanding professional and moral integrity.

The writer is coordinator for the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).



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