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NGO letter to Powell re. Group on Indonesia

NGO letter to Powell re. Consultative Group on Indonesia

PO Box 15774, Washington, DC 20003 USA

December 9, 2003

The Honorable Colin L. Powell
Secretary of State
US Department of State
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Powell:

We are writing with reference to the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI) meeting to be held in Jakarta on December 10th and 11th. We consider this meeting to be an important opportunity for the Administration to raise concerns about human rights with the Indonesian authorities.

The slow progress in implementing reform, embarked on by the Indonesian government in 1998, continues to impact negatively on the human rights situation in Indonesia. Much needed legal and judicial reform has yet to take place with the result that the judiciary remains chronically weak and the law offers little protection against human rights violations. Recent trials relating to crimes against humanity, committed during 1999 in East Timor, have failed to deliver truth or meaningful justice. This failure, together with continued impunity in many other cases of human rights violations, have highlighted once again the structural weaknesses and political obstacles which prevent the rule of law from being upheld and accountability from being established.

We are also concerned about a trend towards the increased use of repression against non-violent critics of the government. There has been a disturbing increase in the number of individuals, including journalists, political and labor activists, throughout Indonesia who have been imprisoned solely on account of the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association.

In Aceh, the imposition of Martial Law in May 2003 has brought renewed allegations of grave human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, "disappearances", arbitrary detention and torture. The province has been effectively closed to independent human rights monitors, humanitarian workers and journalists.

In Papua, a build up of military forces, a Central Government plan to divide the province absent consultations with local people, and growing intimidation of the local population and of civil society leaders by security forces and associated militias have led to sharply increased tensions. Moreover, numerous human rights violations and abuses have not been addressed by the justice system.

There is an urgent need to address these issues if Indonesia is to achieve the political stability and rule of law necessary for its continued political, social and economic development. A number of donor governments and institutions have played an important role in supporting initiatives to promote judicial and legal reform, as well as in providing assistance to the peace process in Aceh. We believe that continued coordinated support in these areas is crucial, but that greater efforts should be made to ensure that human rights are at the center of such initiatives. We also urge you to ensure that all assistance programs are developed and implemented in close cooperation with local non-governmental organizations and other members of civil society. The programs should include benchmarks to ensure accountability and monitoring of the progress in the implementation of changes by the Indonesian authorities.

Recommendations

* The CGI should demand that both domestic and international humanitarian agencies and human rights monitors are given full, unimpeded and unhindered access to all areas of Aceh and that they are able to carry out their work free from intimidation, threats and human rights violations;

* Donors should seek clarification of what measures are being taken to ensure that international humanitarian law and human rights law and standards are being implemented and action is being taken where there are allegations of breaches;

* Donors should continue to exert pressure to allow regular access to diplomatic representatives, including from the Tokyo group (US, European Union and Japan), to Aceh and Papua. As part of such visits, representatives should meet with members of civil society organizations, including humanitarian and human rights organizations. They should also visit places of military and police detention;

* Donors should urge the government to invite UN thematic mechanisms to visit Aceh. Priority should be given to the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on internally displaced persons and the Special Rapporteur on torture;

* Donors should prioritize assistance for strengthening the Indonesian judicial system and law reform, including amendments of the Criminal Code (KUHP) and the Code of Criminal Procedures (KUHAP) so that these comply fully with international law and standards;

* The CGI should publicly call for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience in Indonesia;

* The CGI should publicly express concern that the trials in the ad hoc Human Rights Courts on Timor-Leste have not been credible or effective, and that credible alternatives must now be sought. In the meantime, assistance should be provided to the Indonesian authorities to amend Law 26/2000 Concerning Human Rights Courts and to improve procedures, including in the area of victim and witness protection;

* Donors should urge the Indonesian government to establish an effective and credible mechanism to investigate all allegations of human rights violations and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice in trials which meet international standards for fairness; and

* Donors should encourage the Indonesian government to halt military operations in Papua and reduce the military presence there. Donors should also encourage a dialogue between the Indonesian government and Papuans, including renewal of discussion regarding implementation of special autonomy and the Papuan proposal of transforming Papua into a zone of peace.

Sincerely,

Acheh Center

Amnesty International USA

Dictator Watch

East Timor Action Network

East Timor Religious Outreach

Indiana Alliance for Democracy

Indonesia, Chinese and American Network

Institute on Religion and Public Policy

International Forum for Aceh

International Labor Rights Fund

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Madison-Ainaro Sister City Alliance

Pax Christi USA

Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights

Students for a Free Aceh

United States East Timor Society

Women Against Military Madness

-- Karen Orenstein Washington Coordinator East Timor Action Network: 12 Years for Self-determination and Justice tel: 202-544-6911; fax: 202-544-6118 karen@etan.org; www.etan.org


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