Monday, April 28, 2014

Slow consideration of military justice reform in Indonesia

The Jakarta Post notes that the Indonesian parliament has been mulling military justice reform legislation for 10 years. According to this account, there has been
sluggish progress regarding military tribunals. The open tribunal on the Cebongan attack [in which members of the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus) raided a prison, killing an inmate who they claimed was a thug who killed one of their comrades], held after mounting public pressure, was a rare event. The legislature has been debating revisions to the Military Tribunal Law since 2004. The bill stipulates that military personnel suspected of criminal acts will be brought before a civil court, rather than a military tribunal, as the latter usually gives administrative penalties rather than penalties aimed at deterrence.
Analyst Wahyudi Djafar has noted that even if accused military personnel were to be brought before a military tribunal, the tribunal should adhere to principles such as transparency and accountability, besides handing out punishment befitting the crime. Apparently, these requirements have become major obstacles to the amendment of the Military Tribunal Law. 
As a result, today’s military tribunals still preserve impunity, giving lenient punishment and freeing masterminds from individual responsibility. 
The pattern is similar to the tribunal of Kopassus members found guilty of abduction and forced disappearance of student activists in 1998; perpetrators were brought to court, but the one giving the assignment is still protected by law.

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