Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

Statement on the 6th Anniversary of Munir’s Murder
7 September 2010

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

The six-year delay in rendering justice for the murder of Indonesia's then leading human rights defender, Munir Said Thalib is nothing short of a denial of justice. It is but a shame for a state which tries to project itself before the international community as a country ruled by law, committed to the protection and respect of human rights and in transition to democracy. While the direct perpetrator has been found guilty and now imprisoned, those who plotted and ordered Munir’s murder remain free and unaccountable. This case hereby makes the long and highly politicized judicial process a mockery of justice as it reflects the pervasive climate of impunity for human rights violations.

Munir’s murder by arsenic poisoning on Garuda flight 974 from Jakarta to Amsterdam via Singapore has brutally deprived the international human rights community of his brilliance and commitment.

Moreover, it also creates a chilling atmosphere aimed at stifling dissent and preventing genuine reforms of a system that perpetuates impunity to those, especially in the security forces, guilty of human rights violations including torture, murder, enforced disappearances, etc. Worse still, the Indonesian legal system is now being manipulated to intimidate human rights advocates such as the case of Mr. Usman Hamid, Coordinator of the Commission for Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), who is charged of criminal defamation for testifying against Ret. Gen. Muchdi Purwopranjono, former Chief of National Intelligence Agency (BIN) in Munir’s murder case.

This proves that impunity begets even more wickedness. It does not only allow the perpetrators of human rights violations to escape prosecution and accountability but it also provides them with the legal weapon to strip the human rights defenders of the legitimacy of their cause.

The unresolved murder of Munir raises public concerns about the Indonesian government’s human rights position. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who promised in his first term of office in 2007 to put Munir’s murder case at the top of his agenda, did little, if at all, to ferret out the truth and to equally apply the rule of law by bringing those responsible, including the mastermind, to justice. For this reason, human rights activists and families of victims of human rights violations persistently rally outside the Parliament in Jakarta every Thursday to demand that Pres. Yudhoyono fulfills his promise.

After his re-election in October 2009, any little hope for the final resolution of Munir’s murder seems to vanish into thin air. The Indonesian government has never shown serious efforts to take necessary steps to resolve other past human rights cases particularly in accounting for persons who disappeared and in prosecuting those responsible. This is so despite the recommendations of the then Special Committee of the Indonesian Parliament for the President to establish an ad hoc Human Rights Court in relation to the disappeared students of 1997-1998; to take appropriate steps to immediately locate the whereabouts of the 13 students cited as still missing by Komnas HAM; to facilitate the rehabilitation and satisfactory compensation to victims and/or the families of the disappeared; and to immediately ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.

The fact that Munir’s murder involved agents of the state, the Indonesian government can never elude responsibility. It is an inherent obligation of the state not to guarantee and protect people’s civil liberties and fundamental freedom. Any efforts towards Indonesia’s democratization are rendered meaningless and sheer pretense unless a successful resolution of the Munir case is made. Such a resolution will require the full support of Indonesian government in the continuing struggle of victims and their families for truth, justice and redress.

On the 6th anniversary of the murder of our former Chairperson, we reverberate our deafening cry:
Justice for Munir! Justice for All!

Signed and authenticated by:

Chairperson Secretary-General

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