Friday, April 15, 2011

Session I, Continued: Galuh Wandita, Impunity is Contagious: Transitional Justice in Indonesia and Timor-Leste

Galuh Wandita, a Senior Associate at the ICTJ, provided an overview of transitional justice in Indonesia and East Timor, arriving at the conclusion that “impunity is contagious.” Wandita noted that while Indonesia and East Timor are now formally separated, they maintain a shared border, history and experience of the Cold War, and thus the transitional justice efforts (or lack thereof) in both countries continue to influence each other.

Beginning with Indonesia, Wandita explained that there has been a systemic lack of will preventing effective transitional justice. Wandita discussed three stages of reform that have taken place in Indonesia from 1998 to the present. The first stage, which Wandita referred to as the “Momentous Change,” lasted from 1998-2000, and was marked by strong political will for change. This commitment was evidenced by a new bill of rights; strong resolutions made by the upper house calling for just solutions; a call for establishment of a national TRC; the signing of human rights treaties; expressed political commitment to trying people most responsible for crimes against humanity; and several influential commissions of inquiry. However, the second stage, beginning in 2000, was characterized by compromised mechanisms. Though the human rights courts charged 137 individuals, only eighteen were convicted, and eventually all were acquitted on appeal. Wandita suggested that the 100% acquittal rate might be evidence that Indonesia is both unwilling and unable to prosecute. The last stage, which Wandita designated “Mancet Total!,” has been a period of stalled reform and deadlock in the Attorney General’s office on five major cases.

Turning to East Timor, Wandita noted that the establishment of a Serious Crimes Panel in 2000 was a step in the right direction, though the panel was only empowered to go after the “small fish” still residing in East Timor, rather than those most responsible. Furthermore, while there have been over eighty convictions through the Serious Crimes process, nearly all of those convicted have been pardoned. The production of the CAVR report, which involved public hearings, taking about 8000 victim statements, and community based reconciliation with about 1300 perpetrators, was encouraging, though many of its recommendations have yet to be implemented. There also needs to be greater dissemination of the CAVR report.

Wandita recommended that moving forward will require a two-country strategy with linked research and advocacy strategies. There is a need to better articulate the legacy of impunity so that the patterns of the past don’t continue to repeat themselves. Furthermore, Wandita called upon the international community to show more interest and support, and suggested exploring using universal jurisdiction and other UN mechanisms to establish accountability. For example, there could be some discussion about a hybrid tribunal in Aceh, taking lessons from both the successes and shortcomings of the ECCC in Cambodia.

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