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HRW: 'Prosecute abusive soldiers in civilian courts' JAKARTA - The Indonesian parliament should enact a pending bill that would permit civilian authorities to investigate and prosecute soldiers responsible for crimes against civilians, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to a key lawmaker released today.

Human Rights Watch said that a recent case in which soldiers allegedly assaulted four children in Depok, near Jakarta, highlighted the armed forces' longstanding failure to prosecute abusive military personnel. "Indonesia's military courts are opaque and lack independence," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Reduced charges and lenient sentences mean soldiers committing serious abuses rarely face more than a slap on the wrist, if anything."

Indonesia's military justice system presently has exclusive jurisdiction over military personnel implicated in criminal offenses against civilians. Officers with conflicts of interest can supervise investigations, and senior commanders have the discretion to block cases from going to trial. Past experience in Indonesia demonstrates that this system has failed to investigate and adequately prosecute alleged serious human rights abuses by members of the military.

Human Rights Watch's letter, sent today to Kemal Aziz Stamboel, the chairman of the parliamentary committee that oversees defense, foreign affairs, and information, identified several major short-comings of the Indonesian military justice system. In October 2009, Stamboel led discussions with the minister of defense, Purnomo Yusgiantoro, in which they agreed to make the bill on military jurisdiction a priority during the next legislative term.

The law would give civilian courts the exclusive power to prosecute soldiers accused of rights abuses against civilians. The bill should also permit civilian police and prosecutors to investigate such allegations, Human Rights Watch said. Human Rights Watch urged Stamboel to act quickly to resume deliberation of the bill.

Soldiers have long committed abuses against civilians in Indonesia with impunity. According to media reports, on March 28, 2010, in Depok, at least three soldiers from the Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad) assaulted and interrogated four boys, ages 10 to 14. The soldiers, suspecting that the boys had stolen a bicycle from the military housing complex, allegedly seized the children from their homes during the night, took them to the military housing complex, and beat them severely until they promised not to repeat their offense.


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Related blog entries (category 'Human rights') Tags: abuse, soldier, prosecute, civilian, court


Posted in Human rights @ 24 April 2010 03:14 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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