Thursday, January 14, 2010

UN and Justice

A few days go an East Timorese journalist asked the new of the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste Ameerah Haq about the UN's commitment to justice for serious crimes committed in Timor. Haq's response focuses on the UN helping to strengthening Timor-Leste's institutions, ignoring the more direct role the UN should play in supporting justice and accountability for serious crimes committed in Timor from 1975 on - such as pressure on Indonesia to turn over suspects or on Timor-Leste not return them (Mertenus Bere anyone) or the UN taking over the function of holding trials at an international tribunal.

The relevant excerpts from the transcript follow.
And thirdly, as the new leader of the UN Mission here in Timor-Leste what do you see, I mean what is your view on the UN’s commitment to bring the perpetrators of serious crimes to justice? There is a contradiction between the UN commitment and our government in this matter.

Ameerah Haq: 

...The recommendations of the TAM [Technical Assessment Mission - now in Dili] will go before the Security Council, which will result in another mandate for the Mission. And those recommendations as always will contain the work that the UN will continue to do on justice, on rule of law, and on human rights. And with respect to all of these there will continue to be the position that there must be no impunity for serious crimes against humanity. The work of all the institutions of justice here will continue to be part of the mandate of UNMIT as they have been doing.

And there is a great deal to be done on legislation, on policy, on capacity building; we are working very closely with the Prosecutor General’s office and all the other organs. But again there I think I go back also to what I said in my initial commentary: that I think you know there is a great role not only for the media but also non-governmental organizations to play with respect to advocacy on these issues.
the full UNMIT transcript is here.

As to "non-governmental organizations... advocacy on these issues" -- it will certainly continue.

Photo: Ameerah Haq (third from left) arrives in the Timorese capital, Dili, to take up her post. UN Photo/Martine Perret

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Human Rights Watch report on TNI's businesses

Human Rights Watch has published a new report on the Indonesian miltiary's (TNI) businesses. The report makes clear that efforts to reform the TNI - in this case its business empire - are severely compromised. In sum:
"Five years after the government of Indonesia committed to end the money-making ventures of the Indonesian armed forces, the promise of reform remains unfulfilled. New reform measures will perpetuate military businesses, rather than eliminate them."
The report, Unkept Promise: Failure to End Military Business Activity in Indonesia, chronicles the government stalling that has delayed implementation of the flawed 2004 law, which was supposed "to shut down or take over all TNI businesses by October 16, 2009" -- flawed because "it did not clearly cover illegal and informal businesses." (For example, "protection payments for security services, criminal enterprises, and corruption.")

The regulations implementing the law are so weak that they

do not require the military to give up its businesses, but merely provide for a partial restructuring of the entities—military cooperatives and foundations—through which it holds many of its investments. The government formed an inter-ministerial team on November 11 to oversee the limited transformation of TNI businesses. However, this team has no clear authority over the TNI or its businesses, lacks independence, is not required to report publicly on its work, and faces no deadline to complete its work. Instead, the government’s actions at best set in motion a new process to gradually assert greater government oversight, but not ownership, over TNI business activities. Nor do the new measures address accountability for human rights violations and economic crimes associated with military business activities.
 The report includes with a set of recommendations.

see also Human Rights Watch's earlier report Too High a Price: The Human Rights Cost of the Indonesian Military’s Economic Activities (June 2006).