Notes on follw up to TNI reform

A Joint Press Release from Indonesian rights groups for the 2010 Anniversary of the Indonesian military forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Asian Human Rights Commission, 11 November 2010

By: ICJR, IDSPS, Imparsial, INFID, KontraS, Lesperssi, Praxis, and Propatria



INDONESIA: Notes on follw up to TNI reform

We would like to extend our congratulations for the appointment of the new Army Commander in Chief Admiral Agus Suhartono as well as TNI Anniversary in 2010. The new chief is expected to use the current situation as a momentum to refresh the stagnant TNI reform. Until this day, TNI reform has not reached its target of changes in its duties, functions, structure and institutional culture to comply with democracy and human rights; a standard universal character of a professional and modern military institution.

It needs to be acknowledged that in the course of eleven years, TNI reform has resulted in several policies that are conducive to improvement, as follows: the separation between TNI-Polri structure as stated in MPR Decree No VI/2000; the separation between TNI-Polri roles in which TNI retains its role in defense while Polri retains its role in security as stated in MPR Decree No VII/2000; the creation of Defense Law No 3/2002 as the basis to manage defense sector; the creation of Law on TNI No 34/2004 as the basis to manage the Indonesian National Army; the prohibition of TNI members to be involved in politics and business as stated in Law on TNI No 34/2004 article 39 paragraphs 1 and 2.

Although TNI reform has resulted in positive outcomes, they have not been sufficient to lead to TNI’s professionalism. There are at least seven indicators to be used as the basis to consider whether or not TNI reform was a success.

  • First, there should be organized laws and regulations based on the principle of rule of law.
  • Second, there is an improved capacity in policy making, as well as in defense and security planning.
  • Third, the resulting policies are implemented.
  • Fourth, the executing actors possess professionalism.
  • Fifth, the monitoring system and mechanism are effective.
  • Six, there is a logical and proportional budgeting.
  • Seven, cases of serious human rights violations are resolved as a form of institutional and personnel accountability.

These indicators showed that TNI reform in Indonesia is still partially implemented. This was acknowledged by Laksamana Agus Suhartono during a fit and proper test at the House of Representatives. Two items were explicitly emphasized in the agenda, namely reformation of the military court system and the taking over of military businesses. SBY’s six year of presidency did not achieve any indicators to continue the agenda of the previous governments. The reform process is still far from comprehensive and below expectation as can be seen from the following:

  1. In the context of laws and regulationsIndonesia still has various problems with security sector laws and regulations. Around 8 draft bills remained to be discussed while several political regulations must be revised.The main issue to be prioritized for revision is the existence of Sishankamrata doctrine as stated in 1945 Constitution Article 30 paragraph
  2. The existence of this doctrine in the constitution is the starting point of complexity when we try to rearrange Indonesia’s national defense system.
  3. Therefore, the most crucial draft bill to discuss is the Revision to Military Court Law, in which it is stated that any military officers who commit general crimes fall under the jurisdiction of general courts. Until today, any military officers committing general crimes would still be tried in military court. The existence of military court has so far served as a nest of impunity for any military officers perpetrating both general crimes and federal crimes such as corruption. In addition, to synchronize several defense and security laws as well as to rearrange national security management, a National Security Law is needed. 
  4. In the context of formulating Defense and Security Planning. Until today, Indonesia does not have proper defense and security planning suitable to the dynamics of its ever changing strategic environment. The Ministry of Defense (used to be the Department of Defense) has created a strategic defense review, issued four strategic products in defense, and created a state defense policy. However, in reality, these products do not reflect any spirit for change. For example, the products retained the structure of territorial command as part of their defense system although such structure might not be effective or relevant in facing current threats. 
  5. In the context of policy implementation. The implementation of security and defense policies in Indonesia is an ongoing complex problem. In a small scale, several problems are, among others: lack of resolution in government’s taking over of TNI’s businesses as mandated by Law No. 34/2004 on TNI Article 76; incomplete restructuring of territorial command as mandated by Law No. 34/2004 on TNI Article 11; Military Court Reform as mandated by MPR Decree No. VII/2000 and Law No. 34/2004 on TNI Article 65; and most importantly, the implementation of Law No. 34/2004 on TNI article 3 paragraph 2 about placing TNI under the Ministry of Defense. The last one is important to see whether a policy will be better implemented after TNI institution is placed under the Ministry of Defense. 
  6. In the context of security actors’ professionalismTNI’s professionalism is still below expectation, and in some cases they even showed how unprofessional they are. An example is that TNI officers especially its intelligence unit (BAIS) still considers freedom of political expressions as a threat. This can be seen from BAIS’ statement that Imparsial, KontraS and Elsham are a threat to Pancasila and the unitary republic of Indonesia (NKRI). We are under the opinion that TNI is unable to integrate the reformation paradigm and Indonesia’s goal to become a state of democracy into their institutional policies, organizational culture, and education. Considering this condition, we reject the involvement of TNI in any operations to counter terrorism because it requires not only skills but also the knowledge to differentiate friends from enemies. We urge the government to build, promote and cooperate with civil community in promoting democracy including
    in military. 
  7. In the context of Oversight. Oversight (supervision) on security institutions in Indonesia is still weak. The role of parliament as a control body has not been effective. For example, there was no effective supervision on military operations implemented in Aceh. The role of parliament depends on the willingness and courage of parliament members. Without the willingness, it would be difficult to control any defense organizations in their serious task. Parliament’s control fall is part of their authority under democracy supervision functions. Therefore, strengthening of parliament needs to be continuously supported. 
  8. In the context of logical and proportional budgeting. The management of security sector budget is still pragmatic and disorganized. It is not in line with the desire to build defense and security capability. As a result, its use has been ineffective and inefficient as it is still used to strengthen or even to expand territorial command. In fact, there is a future plan to create supplementary units whose urgency is still questionable. 
  9. In the context of resolving cases of serious human rights violations. Until today there is many past human rights violations that remained unresolved such as Trisakti, Semanggi I and II, Aceh and Papua, Talangsari Lampung, enforced disappearances of 1997/8 activists, May 1998 tragedy, and several others. Even when human rights court existed such as in human rights violation cases in East Timor and Tanjung Priok, the court served as a nest for impunity in which the defendants intervened with court process. None of the high ranking officials involved in East Timor and Tanjung Priok cases was punished. Furthermore, TNI continued to promote those officials even after formal investigations showed that they were involved in serious human rights violations. Vetting mechanism (accountable dismissal and recruitment) is still lacking in promotion process.

In general, there are several factors obstructing the resolution of TNI’s reform agenda: lack of staging (grand design) in terms of security sector/TNI reform; lack of government’s good will in encouraging TNI reform; the weak control function of the parliament. In addition, there are also existing vested interests within security institutions (TNI, Polri, etc) which obstruct the process. Such vested interests are changes in Law on Military Court and lack of community pressure in encouraging security.

Considering the above condition, we urge the government to immediately complete TNI reform. In addition, we request that the new TNI Commander in Chief fully supports TNI reform and does not reject any reformation efforts performed by civil authorities. For this purpose, civil authorities are obliged to immediately create a grand designcontaining the direction of security sector reform in the future and the creation of national security framework. Without them, TNI reform will be merely partial, reactive, and on a needs basis.

In addition, we urge the government to pay more attention to TNI welfare and the welfare of other security bodies. It is important for civil authority to improve the welfare of soldiers and other actors as it is still minimum.

Jakarta, 3 October 2010

ICJR, IDSPS, Imparsial, INFID, KontraS, Lesperssi, Praxis, and Propatria

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.