ICJ reports on human rights and judicial independence in Indonesia

Today, the ICJ released a report on the state of the judiciary and human rights in Indonesia.

Entitled «Ruler’s Law», the 143-page report analyses constitutional arrangements and sets out the observations and conclusions of a mission to Indonesia, conducted from 20 March-3 April 1999. The mission met with former President Habibie, the Minister of Justice, the Attorney-General and other officials, as well as the opposition, professional legal associations, legal aid organizations, unions, journalists, women’s organizations and student leaders.

The report finds that the judiciary remains an arm of executive government. ICJ Secretary-General Adama Dieng stated that: «the Constitution places no real limits on the President. It permits both the People’s Consultative Assembly and Parliament to be composed and ordered according to Presidential instruction. The Minister of Justice controls all matters relating to judges. The Supreme Court can exercise no effective control over executive and legislative action. Compounding the dilemma is the absence of adequate mechanisms to call judges to account. The new government and parliament must restore confidence in the judiciary by initiating needed reform.”

The report advocates the establishment of a new Constitutional Court. It argues that a clear division of responsibility should be created between the Ministry of Justice and the courts. An independent inquiry should be established into all aspects of judicial corruption.

« Since the events in East Timor and Aceh, Indonesia’s human rights record has been under scrutiny», said Dieng. In Aceh, the report says, more than 5000 people have died at the hands of the military forces and up to 20,000 injured. The mission recommends that a Truth Commission be established as a means of effecting reconciliation between the province’s people and its rulers.

The ICJ welcomes the government’s decision to embark upon a five-year plan of action for the enhancement of human rights and to ratify all the major human rights treaties within a year. The report provides foundation for further discussions between the ICJ and the new Government of Indonesia, which has indicated its commitment towards the transition to true democracy that would guarantee governance through the rule of law.

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