Despite the impressive performance from the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), the House of Representatives declined to increase the budget for the institution.
In a meeting with the House’s Commission III overseeing human rights, Komnas HAM requested an increase in the budget to Rp 68.25 billion (US$5.60 million) from last year’s Rp 58 billion, a proposal swiftly rejected by lawmakers.
The lawmakers, however, had no qualms about earmarking Rp 40 billion to support the work of the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) special crimes division, which also handles cases of gross human rights violations, late on Tuesday.
During the Wednesday hearing, lawmakers blasted Komnas HAM for what they considered to be a poor performance and waning stature in the public eye.
As for the AGO, only a few lawmakers questioned its accountability over the budget used to investigate cases of past rights abuses.
Commission III chairman I Gede Pasek Suardika told reporters the commission had not made an assessment of whether the AGO had made progress in dealing with cases of gross human rights violations.
“We haven’t really examined whether it [the AGO] really did something on cases of gross human rights violations or not,” Suardika said.
The AGO has frequently ignored findings from Komnas HAM and resisted against any attempts to
resolve past human rights abuses.
The majority of the lawmakers, however, scolded Komnas HAM commissioners, arguing that the body had been specifically mandated by Law No. 39/1999 to handle cases of human rights violations in the country.
“It’s almost two years since the appointment of the new commissioners but we’ve heard nothing other than them fighting each other for the leadership as well as about perks from the office,” Suardika said.
Commission III member Syarifuddin Suding from the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura) said he could not approve a budget increase for Komnas HAM unless it solved its leadership problem.
“Resolve your internal problem. Prove your work first and then come to us for a budget,” Suding said.
In recent months. Komnas HAM has unveiled its reports from investigations into past atrocities and declared them as gross violations of human rights, including the 1965 anti-communist purge, the early 1980s Petrus (mysterious shootings) and the 1998 May riots.
In its recommendations, Komnas HAM said the AGO must conduct further investigations before alleged perpetrators from the cases could be brought to trial.
The AGO has repeatedly ignored the recommendations as well as calls from rights campaigners.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), for example, has repeatedly called for the AGO to take action on Komnas HAM’s findings, to no avail.
Lawmaker Eva Kusuma Sundari from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) said the House, Commission III in particular, was partly to blame for the slow progress in promoting justice for survivors and victims of past human rights abuses.
“We must understand that lawmakers don’t have the same stance on the matter. I therefore call on
all campaigners and those who are concerned about human rights in the country to join hands and continue fighting. I’m afraid that survivors, particularly those of the 1965 purge, may not witness justice being restored due to their old age,” she said.