Human rights commission chiefs kept in office by SBY
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President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono extended the tenures of 11 commissioners of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) after lawmakers did not select replacements on schedule.
Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said that Yudhoyono signed a presidential decree extending the commissioners’ appointments on Wednesday night, hours before they were set to expire.
“The decree was issued after the President received a letter from the leaders of the DPR [House of Representatives]. It is effective today until new commissioners are elected. The decree is aimed at preventing the Komnas HAM from ceasing operations,” Julian said on Thursday.
In its letter to the President, the House requested that the appointments be extended until it could select new leaders for the commission.
State Secretary Sudi Silalahi said that the Presidential Office prepared the draft decree soon after the letter arrived. “Moments after the draft was done, the President signed it. The processes took only a matter of minutes,” Sudi told reporters.
Rights groups have lambasted lawmakers for dragging their feet in selecting the new commissioners.
House’s Commission III overseeing legal affairs and human rights was not able to interview the 30 candidates under consideration, although the short listed was developed early June.
The groups, however, praised Yudhoyono for salvaging the situation at the 11th hour.
Hendardi, the chairman of the Setara Institute, a human rights watchdog, said that issuing the decree improved Yudhoyono’s image, which has been marred by several incidents of religious violence throughout the nation. “The President deserves applause, although he has only capitalized on the negligence of lawmakers.”
Deputy House speaker Pramono Anung of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), meanwhile, said that the government-sanctioned team tasked with vetting candidates had been very late in submitting its list of candidates for House consideration.
“We told them [the team] that the House would be in recess for a month. The team should have adjusted their schedule to ours,” Pramono said.
It was not until Aug. 27 that House members returned to work after a one-month recess and the Idul Fitri holiday.
However, the head of the team, the nation’s most prominent jurist and the former chief justice of the Constitutional, Jimmly Asshiddiqie said that his team finished work on time on June 11. “We had asked for a meeting with them to discuss our list, but we got no response,” Jimmly said.
Outgoing Komnas HAM chairman Ifdhal Kasim said that he hoped that the extension would grant the commissioners more time to follow up on some findings, such as its report on the 1965 communist purge.
Arya Dipa contributed reporting from Bandung, West Java.