The Jakarta Post
Politics has been blamed for the setback in the plan to ratify the Rome Statute for the accession to the International Criminal Court (ICC), with concerns over the prosecution of politically-wired generals being cited as the primary reason.
After 7 years of deliberation, the Indonesian government will likely halt the ratification process of the Rome Statute of the ICC over concerns that the international convention could be used to block the presidential bids of Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) chief patron Lt. Gen. (ret.) Prabowo Subianto and People's Conscience (Hanura) Party chairman Gen. (ret.) Wiranto.
The two generals have been accused of ordering human rights abuses during the transition period in the late 1990s.
An investigation by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) in 2003 deemed Prabowo and Wiranto responsible for the 1998 May riots owing to their capacities as former commander of the Special Forces Command (Kopassus) and chief of the Indonesian Military (TNI) respectively.
In spite of Deputy Law and Human Rights Minister Denny Indrayana's visit to the Netherlands, where he gave a pledge to the ICC that Indonesia would soon ratify the convention, the plan had to be put on the back burner as people close to the two generals were reportedly lobbying the Defense Ministry to drop the initiative.
The government would be represented by the Law and Human Rights Ministry and the Defense Ministry in its deliberation with the House of Representatives over the ratification plan.
Several politicians warned the government against ratifying the Statute, over concerns that it could be used to thwart the presidential ambitions of Prabowo and Wiranto.
'Are we willing to be humiliated by the international community by allowing our generals to be prosecuted?' Rear Admiral Susanto of the National Resilience Institute (Lemhanas) said recently.
Rights groups said that the concerns were misplaced.
Komnas HAM said that Prabowo and Wiranto should not be worried about being brought to the ICC as the Rome Statute applied a non-retroactive principle.
'The fear that the ratification will pose threats to the generals is not justified. The Rome Statute will be applicable on human rights abuses that occur after Indonesia ratifies it,' Komnas HAM commissioner Roichatul Aswidah told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
Roichatul also said that by ratifying the convention it would further improve the stature of Indonesia as a civilized nation.
'Therefore, Komnas HAM strongly encourages the government and the House of Representatives to complete the ratification process because there is no other condition but the government's political commitment. Ratifying the Rome Statute will prevent mass and systematic abuses from happening again in the future while at the same time we can resolve past cases,' she said.
The rights groups have called on the government and the House to immediately ratify the convention with the process potentially heading back to square one with the country entering its political year in 2014.
Senior director of the International Law and Human Rights Programme of the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), David Donut Cattin, called on the Indonesian government to leave politics out of the issue.
'We must depoliticize the issue because it's wrong to give the illusion that the Statute will directly link to the generals,' Cattin told the Post on Wednesday.
Former lawmaker Marzuki Darusman, who currently serves as the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea, said that the House could not be blamed for delaying the ratification of the Statute as all political factions agreed to endorse it in 2008.
'For me it's clear that the problem is not with the House. It now depends on the government to decide the future of the ratification. However, I really hope that we can finally complete it sometime within this year,' Marzuki said.
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