International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

No Justice in Indonesia?

Indonesia faces a dilemma in which the country set up human right courts in 2000 but the courts have not yet convicted a single case. This is an especially large problem because data from the Missing Persons and Victims of Violence NGO estimates that more than one million people have been subjected to human rights abuses between the years of 196 and 1998, most of which occurred under the rule of President Suharto. Since the founding of the courts, 12 cases have been heard before the four human rights courts but there have been no convictions, making it difficult to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice. There have been many stories of enforced disappearances amongst those who challenged the military regime during the country’s transition to democracy and additional cases of state and police brutality, torture, and killings of activists during a separatist conflict in the Papuan region. Furthermore, members of minority religious groups, like the Ahmadiyah, an Islamic sect, have been prosecuted for their beliefs. These types of human rights abuses continue to happen for several reasons: victims are afraid to speak out for fear of being terrorized; a culture of impunity that is prevalent in the region; and a lack of evidence in the cases. It is imperative that the state address this history of human rights abuses, but will human rights courts address all of the aforementioned problems? Although “the country’s Constitutional Court declared a 2006 law on Truth and Reconciliation unconstitutional,” it appears to me that a truth commission would probably be most beneficial to victims of human rights abuses in Indonesia.

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