An Uphill Battle

THE National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) is supported by the law but has little or no chance in facing the Indonesian Military (TNI). During the course of investigating former and current army members who are suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of activists, only one out of the 23 summoned personnel is willing to testify.On the other hand, only three out of 61 civilians summoned have refused to testify, all of the police personnel have complied with the summons, including former Police Chief, General (ret) Dibyo Widodo.

Komnas HAM has tried everything in its power to summon the army personnel. The first summons, sent by special courier, failed. Several personnel have moved away, one security guard refused to receive the summons, and one district official refused to deliver the letter.

The only officer who obeyed the first summons was Lt. Gen. (ret) Yusuf Kartanegara, a former member of the Officers’ Honor Council which investigated Prabowo Subianto and Muchdi Pr. Komnas HAM failed to extract further information from Kartanegara. “In most of his responses he claims to have forgotten details of the incidents,” said a member of the Komnas HAM ad hoc investigation team.

The second summons was sent. The summons were re-sent to those with completed addresses, and for those with unclear addresses the summons were sent to their authorities, and for the ones with unknown addresses, the summons were displayed at the Komnas HAM information board.

No response. Komnas HAM then sent a letter to the TNI Commander in Chief, Marshal Djoko Suyanto, to arrange a meeting for discussing how to call on those personnel. Djoko answered through the Legal Establishment Service: a House of Representatives (DPR) recommendation must be required before Komnas HAM can start the case investigation.

Undeterred, Komnas HAM asked the Jakarta District Court to petition an active officer and five other army officers who were suspects in the cases. However, the court refused the request because a forced summons can only be executed in an investigation.

Why do the army officers resist the summons? Army spokesperson, Colonel Ahmad Yani Basuki, told Tempo there was no resistance. The TNI personnel are merely following the already established law in such cases. The investigation of human rights abuse cases requires the recommendation of the government and the army is obeying this stipulation, he said.

Abdul Manan

Tempo Magazine, No. 12/VII/Nov 21 – 27, 2006

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