RI, int’l public push for civilian court for torture

RI, int’l public push for civilian court for torture
The Jakarta Post, 27 January 2011 
By: Ina Parlina

The perpetrators of torture against two Papuans should be brought to a civilian court, activists said on Wednesday, in response to an eight to 10-month sentence from the Jayapura military tribunal.

Usman Hamid of the International Center for Transitional Justice said Indonesian law allowed such cases to be tried before civilian courts.

“The [National Commission for Human Rights] is supposed to push the government, including the President, the Defense Ministry and the Attorney General’s Office, to bring the case to a civilian court,” he said.

Usman said that without such pressure, the Indonesian Military (TNI) would seek a military tribunal to show that they were accountable. He said it was a common practice by the TNI to punish its members for procedural violations while avoiding the heart of the matter.

On Monday, the Jayapura Military Court sentenced Second Sgt. Irwan Riskiyanto, the deputy commander of the Infantry Battalion’s Gurate military post in Puncak Jaya, to 10 months in prison — not for torture but for insubordination — when they tortured Telengga Gire and Anggen Pugu Kiwo on May 27, 2010.

His subordinates, First Pvt. Yakson Agu and First Pvt. Thamrin Mahangiri received nine and eight-month sentences respectively, also for insubordination.

The United States’ Embassy in Jakarta published a press release on Wednesday saying that “We are very concerned that the Indonesian Military charged the soldiers only with disobeying orders and that the sentences handed down do not reflect the seriousness of the abuses depicted in the video.”

Reactions also came from the US-based West Papua Advocacy Team, US-based East and Indonesia Action Network and UK-based TAPOL, which condemned the Indonesian government’s failure to try those responsible before a civilian court.

They urged the US and other governments to suspend military aid and assistance programs to the TNI.

National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) held a press conference on Wednesday to air their disappointment with the latest Jayapura military tribunal decision.

“We said torture, while the military built the case on insubordination,” commissioner Ridha Saleh said.

The commission reported in January that certain military personnel had perpetrated “serious human rights violations” in three cases: the torture of Gire and Kiwo, the murder of Rev. Kindeman Gire from Tingginambut in the village of Gorage and the beating and kicking 30 Puncak Jaya residents in March last year, which was tried in November.

Komnas HAM did not recommend a human rights tribunal. Citing a 1999 Law on Human Rights, it did not recognize serious violations. The law said the tribunal was only for gross violations.

Komnas HAM deputy chairman Joseph “Stanley” Adi Prasetyo said gross violations, according to an international convention and an Indonesian law, were genocide and crimes against humanity, including forced disappearance. He said Komnas HAM did not find elements of gross violation in the three cases they investigated.

Australian Senator Scott Ludlam, of the Australian Greens party said in a press release on Tuesday “the conduct of the Indonesian government and the farcical trial of the three soldiers involved showed a total lack of respect for human rights.” His party called for the Australian government to cut all military ties with Indonesia.