Monday, October 5, 2015

Military law reform urged (again, still) in Indonesia

From this report in The Jakarta Post about the expanded role of the armed forces in Indonesian life:
Concerns over the professionalism of the military have further mounted after the TNI [Indonesian National Armed Forces] insisted on maintaining the existing law on military courts, Law No. 31/1997, which stipulates that criminal acts by soldiers must be resolved internally within the military institution. 
Human rights watchdogs claim the law prevents members of the military from being held accountable for crimes against civilians, particularly in conflict-prone areas such as the country’s easternmost province of Papua. 
In Papua, a shooting at Koperapoka in Mimika involving soldiers claimed the lives of two civilians in August, one of several such cases in the province that remain unresolved.
Activists also often cite the infamous attack at Cebongan Penitentiary in Sleman, Yogyakarta, by members of the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus) in 2013 that left four detainees dead. That case was similarly tried before a military rather than civilian court, and is held up as an example of the military’s seclusion and lack of accountability. 
Until the TNI allows civilian courts to try soldiers accused of crimes, activists say, it will remain vulnerable to charges of lack of professionalism and commitment to justice. 
“Thus, a revision of the Military Court Law is urgent,” said Poengky Indarti of the Jakarta-based human rights watchdog Imparsial. “Revising the law is one way to make sure that the military is professional in carrying out its job.”

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