Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Support claimed for military law reform in Indonesia

Indonesian Parliament
The Jakarta Globe reports here that factions in the lower house of parliament are in agreement on the need to reform military law so as to subject military personnel to the civilian justice system:
Tantowi Yahya, deputy chairman of Commission I of the House of Representatives, said on Monday that all factions of the legislature support the idea of revising the law on military tribunals, which could mean that members of the Indonesian Military (TNI) will be tried at regular courts if they are suspected of general crimes. 
“We all agree. The House, all factions, mostly they support [the revision]. The government has not agreed yet though,” Tantowi said. 
The revision is proposed for Law No. 31 from 1997, which states that criminal acts committed by soldiers must be resolved internally, within the military institution.

The House of Representatives of the 2004-09 period already discussed the idea of revising the law but the TNI at the time maintained it was not ready to let soldiers appear in civilian courts. 
“If [the soldiers commit a crime that] has nothing to do with their military jobs, then [they] must be processed at regular courts. If they commit graft, they must be processed at the Anti-Corruption Court,” added Tantowi, who is a member of the Golkar Party. 
NGOs such as the human rights watchdog Imparsial and the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) have long called for the revision of the law. 
The revision is "a constitutional obligation" for the government, Poengky Indarti, Imparsial's executive director, said in March. "Article 27 [...] of the 1945 Constitution that says every citizen is equal before the law, [...] including the TNI's soldiers," she added. 
Arif Nur Fikri of KontraS said last month that the military tribunal should only be allowed to hear “cases regarding their professional code of conduct.” 
There have been a number of high-profile cases in recent years in which soldiers were involved, that including the shooting and torture of civilians. However, most military personnel to have been involved in such cases received relatively light sentences in military courts.
It's possible that the legislators' claims of broad agreement are wishful thinking, but perhaps change is afoot. 

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