The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), a human rights NGO, has lambasted the government's recent decision to opt for a non-judicial mechanism to resolve past human rights abuses, saying that it will fail to bring perpetrators to justice.
The Attorney General's Office (AGO), along with a number of institutions, including the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), decided last week to settle the past cases through reconciliation, citing complexities in proceeding with legal measures.
Kontras coordinator Haris Azhar said that instead of reconciliation, the government should set up an ad hoc human rights court to resolve cases of past violations as it would provide "legal certainty" for the victims.
"The government should issue a presidential decree to establish an ad hoc human rights court," Haris said, referring to Law No. 26/2000 on human rights courts. Article 43 of the law stipulates that gross human rights violations that took place before the enactment of the law should be tried at an ad hoc human rights court.
He added that the government should urge the AGO and Komnas HAM to press ahead with their investigations into the cases.
"There should also be a presidential instruction for Komnas HAM and the AGO to continue their investigations." Haris said.
Following years of investigations, Komnas HAM reported seven unresolved cases of past human rights abuses.
The cases are the 1989 Talangsari massacre, the enforced disappearance of anti-Soeharto activists in 1997-1998, the Trisakti University shootings, the Semanggi I and II shootings in 1998 and 1999, the mysterious killings of alleged criminals in the 1980s, the communist purge of 1965-1966 and abuses in Wasior in 2001 and Wamena in 2003, both in Papua.
Komnas HAM has submitted the results of its years-long investigations to the AGO for further investigations, but to no avail because of a prolonged debate over technical issues.
Attorney General M. Prasetyo previously said that efforts to proceed with legal measures to settle past rights abuse cases had faced stumbling blocks, making the planned reconciliation committee the "best possible solution".
"We opted for a non-judicial approach as there are many cases that took place long ago. We have found it difficult to collect evidence, contact witnesses and find the perpetrators for such old cases," Prasetyo said.
Haris said that Prasetyo's statements were baseless as the AGO had never followed up on Komnas HAM's reports with further investigations.
He also said Komnas HAM had been weak in defending its reports and pushed for a judicial mechanism.
"Komnas HAM has been unable to defend its own findings. It has taken a pragmatic approach with this reconciliation move."