Swiss Ambassador Speech on ICC Diplomatic Briefing by the Indonesian CICC
Opening remarks by Ambassador of Switzerland Bernardino Regazzoni
on the occasion of a Diplomatic Briefing by the Indonesian Coalition of NGOs promoting the Accession of Indonesia to the Rome Statute.
(Jakarta, July 28th, 2008)
Ibu Tuti Harkrisnowo, Director General at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights,
Chairman and Executive Director of IKOHI and ELSAM,
Friends and colleagues from the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the pleasure to open this diplomatic briefing today, to which we were invited by the coalition of Indonesian NGOs advocating the accession of the Republic of Indonesia to the Rome Statute. An occasion that the Swiss Embassy in Jakarta is happy to support. I am sure the briefing will provide us with valuable information about the efforts and progress on the way to Indonesia’s ratification. I hope that this briefing will allow as well for a lively discussion to take place after the presentations of distinguished Professor Harkrisnowo and of our friends from IKOHI and ELSAM.
The recent tenth anniversary of the Rome Statute on 17th July makes today’s event seem even more appropriate.
Let me shortly address some issues of substance:
The establishment of the International Criminal Court is an historical achievement or, in the words of then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan “A present of hope for future generations”. The Rome Statute is certainly among the most important human rights treaties to date. Some even deem it to be the result of one of the most important multilateral negotiations since the adoption of the UN Charter in 1945. For sure: it is an epochal progress in the enforcement of human rights and the realization of international justice.
Ending impunity for the most serious crimes and thereby contributing to prevent future crimes: this is the main objective of the ICC. The Rome Statute succeeded in achieving a consensus on so-called “core crimes” that under no circumstances must go unpunished. Those crimes are: genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Such a consensus makes the argument of cultural relativism impossible. It is acknowledged that such grave crimes, in the words of the Preamble of the Statute, “threaten the peace, security and well-being of the world” and therefore they “must not go unpunished (…) and their effective prosecution must be ensured”.
It is remarkable that since 1998 107 countries have ratified the Rome Statute. Each of these States have carefully analyzed and weighed the pros and cons of becoming a State Party. Eventually, they decided that the advantages outweighed the disadvantages and challenges. Still the objective of universality remains to be achieved, despite the widely acknowledged need and timeliness of the ICC, as well as the confidence of the international Community in its credibility.
Switzerland considers the development and strengthening of international law as one of the most effective instruments for enhancing its security and preserving its interests. The Swiss Federal Constitution puts the promotion of respect for human rights as one of the fundamental objectives of Swiss foreign policy. Therefore, Switzerland participated alongside 120 other States actively in the negotiations leading to the adoption of the Rome Statute in 1998. Its Parliament ratified the Statute in October 2001. Switzerland was among the Group of 60 States whose ratification brought the Statute into force on the 1st of July 2002.
Since its establishment, the ICC has become continuously more operational. It has not only indicted a number of commanders of non state armed groups from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and the Central African Republic – States who all called upon the ICC to become active. Most recently, it also made public the indictment of the President of Sudan, Mr. Omar al-Bashir, regarding the situation in Darfur, which was deferred to the ICC by the UN Security Council.
The discussion triggered by the work of the ICC Prosecutor, Mr. Moreno Ocampo in general, and in particular the decision to indict an acting head of State, shows on the one hand the importance of a well functioning international criminal justice system. On the other hand, it fuels the fears of those who might become targets of the Court in the future. It is my intimate conviction that such debates are necessary. However, I believe that there is no doubt about the direction we take: we are steadily moving towards a world in which genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes will be effectively sanctioned, be it through an effective ICC or thanks to the principle of complementarity through effective national criminal justice systems.
We all heard about the recent arrest of Radovan Karadzic in Serbia, indicted by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. I would like to take this important development in the history of international justice as an example for the need for patience and determination. Few things happen overnight and even fewer things happen automatically. An incremental approach is therefore in my eyes best suited for allowing an effective system of international justice to be put in place.
Let me now address the Rome Statute in relation to Indonesia, our host country. The National Plan of Action on Human Rights by the President of the Republic of Indonesia (RANHAM) sets the objective of the ratification of the Rome Statute by 2008. I am aware that this is a challenging endeavour and I welcome and strongly support this objective, as we all do. It is my firm opinion that the ICC needs Indonesia on board. In fact only few Asian countries have so far ratified the Rome Statute. Indonesia has now an opportunity to set a landmark example for its region. Political commitment as well as firm action is needed. Among other means, advocacy will certainly remain essential and in addition to NGOs, media may also have an important role to play in preparing the public and in fostering understanding within society, supporting thereby the work of the Government and of the Parliament.
The jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court is not retroactive. It does not extend to crimes perpetrated before the date of accession of one State Party to the Rome Statute. This triggers sometimes disappointment, namely by those who expect clarity and accountability for crimes of the past. Let me express my deep respect for the suffering of victims of past abuses of human rights and of international humanitarian law. But let me assert in the meantime my conviction that a universal and well functioning International Criminal Court profits also them, as it yields the promise to reduce the risk of reoccurrence of what happened to them for their children and grand children. “Never again!”: this can be the inspiring banner under which a consensus can be achieved on the necessity to join the ICC. The words of Kofi Annan I quoted at the beginning (“A present of hope for future generations”) can be grasped to their fullest extent only if they are taken up also by the victims of past crimes.
In the field of transitional justice, other instruments are at the disposal of societies and governments in their endeavour to come to terms with their past (recently Switzerland itself was by the way not spared of dealing with its own past). The ICC is not designed to replace such mechanisms and processes. This may be best illustrated by the ongoing debates regarding national and regional truth and reconciliation commissions in Indonesia, as well as by the recent submission of the Report of the Commission on Truth and Friendship to the Presidents of the Republic of Indonesia and of Timor-Leste respectively.
As a matter of fact, I am convinced that the discussion regarding the accession of Indonesia to the Rome Statute and the current deliberations regarding future TRCs will have a mutually reinforcing effect. My country remains therefore committed to support not only the process leading Indonesia to join the International Criminal Court, but also to establish transitional justice mechanisms.
It’s time now for me to conclude my opening remarks and to thank the coalition of Indonesian NGOs promoting Indonesia’s accession to the Rome Statute for taking the initiative of organising this event, which I hope, will prove to be useful to all of us.
The Agony of the Missing Persons' Families
DISAPPEARANCES - INDONESIA: The Agony of Missing Persons’ Families
Their loved ones have been missing for months, some for more than a year. The families of Indonesia’s missing persons rely on their vivid memories to help keep their hope alive. Some of these families live far from Jakarta, and not all have the energy or the means to keep going back and forth to the capital to inquire about their lost members. The following are a few accounts from families of missing persons:
D. Utomo Rahardjo, the father of Petrus Bima Anugerah, last communicated with his son over the phone. During the brief conversation, shortly before the young man disappeared on 31 March 1998, Utomo said his son only requested that the family pray for his safety. A relative requesting anonymity said Petrus had felt threatened because his calls to an apartment of his fellow student activists in Klender, East Jakarta, had gone unanswered.Petrus, 25, is one of the Indonesian political activists who disappeared at a time of crushing economic crisis and rising student protests against the government earlier this year.
The new government of President B. J. Habibie is trying to prove its commitment to reform by putting pressure on the military to investigate abuses. The government announced in August that it had ordered the release of 32 political prisoners, bringing to more than 200 the total number of such inmates freed under Habibie.However, nearly 100 more remain in jail. Andi Arief, who was abducted and recently released, has said that based on comments made by his captors he believes at least two of the missing men are dead.
Those who have been freed said that security forces beat them and tortured them with electric shocks to force them to reveal names of colleagues or plans they were suspected of having to disrupt the presidential election in March.Human rights groups say thousands of political activists disappeared during Suharto’s 32-year rule. Investigations are currently underway into reports of mass graves in the province of Aceh, which along with areas of East Timor and Irian Jaya have been the focus of military operations against government opponents.
Like many of the activists, Petrus began his political activities at university and soon joined the youth wing of the People’s Democratic Party (PRD), which was formed in 1994 to press for political reform and later banned by Suharto. The Suharto government viewed joining the PRD as tantamount to treason because its members were suspected of harbouring communist ideals. Petrus and other youths who worked in the new party resented Suharto, his children and their cronies for amassing fortunes worth an estimated US billion during his authoritarian rule. The activists now demand that Suharto be brought to justice and that the wealth be returned to help rehabilitate Indonesia’s economy.
‘My Life is Not for My Parents Only’
Petrus told his family nearly two years ago that he began to notice the potential for change in Indonesia. "My son said that in that organisation there is hope for change in Indonesia," said Petrus’ mother, Genoveva Misiati, describing a conversation she and her husband had with Petrus. "I said, ‘What kind of change do you want?’ He said, ‘I want to have a change in education, politics and the movement of the workers.’" "We said if you want to get involved in that organisation you are going to hit a steel wall," Misiati said. Petrus replied: "I know that, but if I don’t do this, the next generation will be ruined."
When Petrus failed to go home last December, Misiati wrote to him asking, "Don’t you love your mother anymore?" He replied: "It is not that I don’t love my parents. But my life is not for my parents only. I don’t want life to be a routine . . . I want to do something that other people need. If I don’t I would be very disappointed and regret it. I would even die."
Over the next three months, Petrus went deeper underground as student protests grew. A former Airlangga University student, Petrus was asked by his relatives to move to Jakarta after fellow activists - including Dita Sari who is still being detained in Tangerang - were arrested. He soon after continued his studies at the Driyarkara Theology Institute in Central Jakarta. A few days before Petrus was reported missing, fellow activists had warned him to be extra careful.His father, a paramedic in a mental hospital in Malang, last came to Jakarta to meet National Military Police Commander Major General Syamsu Djalal, the head of the Armed Forces’ (ABRI) fact-finding team on the disappearances, and to the Ministry of Defence and Security with families of other missing persons on 22 July. They had hoped to meet Minister of Defence and Security/ABRI Commander General Wiranto for news of their lost family members.
General Wiranto finally agreed to meet the group and acknowledged that he still knows "nothing of their whereabouts and whether they are still alive or not."Petrus’ father said General Wiranto should be held responsible for the disappearances:
"I just want clarity and certainty" about Petrus’ condition. He walked out of the meeting with Syamsu because he felt the answers to his questions were unsatisfactory. Utomo, speaking by phone from his home in Malang, East Java, said he was "democratic" and had never forbidden Petrus from joining potentially dangerous activities.
He added that Petrus had always been active in his community’s youth activities as well as in church.In the first weeks after Petrus was reported missing, Utomo said the family did not want neighbours to notice. "We still joined community activities and even had a neighbours’ gathering at home. Nobody knew."When their neighbours found out the news, many came to support the family. Petrus’ mother said of her recent retirement from a teaching post in school: "It seems that God has arranged this" so she could have more time to go back and forth to the offices of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and government authorities to inquire about their son.
Family’s Breadwinner Disappeared
In Jakarta, Taj-Biby, 49, spoke affectionately about her son, Noval S. Alkatiri, whom she has not seen since 29 May 1997. Noval, 31, the second child of five, had been the family’s breadwinner."He is a really devoted son, and worked hard to support us and was the main financial contributor to his father’s diabetic treatment," Taj-Biby said. She insisted that her son was not politically active. Noval and a family friend, Deddy Hamdun, 43, went missing with Noval’s driver, Ismail, 31, on the same day.
Deddy and the family had a remote business relationship in the past, she said. Noval and his daughter, Nafilah, lived with his parents following his divorce. Nafilah, 8, is one of the last people to see her father.On the day Noval was reported missing, Nafilah accompanied her father to his office upon her grandmother’s request. "It was (general) election day, and I asked Noval to bring Nafilah to his office so that she wouldn’t be lonely at home.A couple of hours later, my son dropped his daughter at home. Without getting out of the car, he told her to change clothes. We were planning to go out together after he came back from picking up Deddy," recalled Taj-Biby.
Nafilah was ready at the time promised, but her father never returned. Pictures of missing people on television and newspapers have brought reality closer to home. "Nafilah always points to the TV (when Noval’s picture is aired) and says, ‘That’s Abah (father)! He’s going to take me around when he comes back.’," Taj-Biby added.The family said that Taj-Biby’s health had deteriorated since her son was reported missing. Yet the family has not lost hope. "We have been waiting patiently for a year. We are willing to continue waiting for months as long as the military can assure Noval’s safety and whereabouts," said Erie Alkatiri, Noval’s sister.
Similar uncertainty and hope was voiced by the family of Yani Afri, who live in a modest apartment in Tanah Abang. His mother, Tuti, remembers the first days that began the family’s long wait. "That afternoon (26 April 1997), Yani was sleeping after a long working night. A man whom I have never seen before, who introduced himself as Sonny, came and woke my son up, and that was the last time I saw him," Tuti said.
Three days later, upon hearing news that her son was being detained by the military, Tuti went to the North Jakarta Military District to find that her son had been released but was missing again. ‘I Only Want My Son to Come Home Safely’ Since then she has lived in uncertainty. The family has even gone to see a soothsayer, but has found no solace except for some news from Kontras that another missing person since released by his captors reported that he had met Yani. "I only want my son to come home safely. I don’t care whether there is a trial of those military personnel (alleged captors)," Tuti said.
She joined with other families to meet General Wiranto. "I was totally unsatisfied with his answers." A young man with a strong will, Tuti said, Yani, 27, closely resembled the character and physical features of his late father, a decorated soldier of the Siliwangi Army division. Yani and Yusuf, his younger brother, had worked together for years as public transport drivers. "He usually worked as the driver, while I was his assistant. We were really close. People never guessed we were brothers," said Yusuf, 25.Yusuf said that it was Yani who pulled him from a life on the street after he graduated from high school. He said he would have known if his brother was politically active. "I have always been together with him."Meanwhile, news broke out that one missing person on the Kontras’ list was found:
Hendra Hendrawan, but it was yet to be confirmed. Hendrawan’s close friend, Nurhikmah, had said he told her his dream: "One day, when we succeed in achieving our aim (democracy), I would like to bring all underprivileged children of Jakarta to Ancol (beach resort), and let them have a taste of freedom."Nurhikmah, also an activist, described Hendrawan, 28, as coming from a disciplined Muslim family "with a fixed commitment towards the democratic movement."
Activists Being Released
Those who have been reunited with their families are Pius Lustrilanang, 30, the secretary-general of Aldera (the People’s Democratic Alliance) and a student at Parahyangan University, Bandung;
Desmon J. Mahesa, the director of the Nusantara Legal Aid Office in Jakarta;
Rahardjo Waluyo Djati, 29, an activist of the National Committee for Democracy Struggle (KNPD) and a student at Gadjah Mada University (UGM) who disappeared with Faisol Riza, 25, KNPD activist and UGM student who has also returned, and Hendrawan, who is still missing;
Nezar Patria, 28, also a UGM student and secretary-general of the Association of Indonesian Students for Democracy (SMID);
Mugianto, 25, SMID activist and UGM student, captured together with Nezar and Aan Rusdianto at a Klender apartment, East Jakarta, who has also returned;
Andi Arief, 28, the chairman of SMID;
and Haryanto Taslam, an executive in Megawati Soekarnoputri’s wing of the Indonesian Democratic Party.
(Source: This article is complied from news reports of the Jakarta Post, 2 August 1998, and the Washington Post, 16 September 1998.)
Protect HRDs in Kashmir!
AFAD Condemns the Threat to the Life of Parvez Imroz
July 2, 2008 - The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), a regional federation of Asian human rights organizations working directly on the issue of enforced disappearances, strongly condemns the latest threat to the life of Attorney Parvez Imroz. Representing the Association of Parents Disappeared Persons (APDP), which is a core group member of AFAD, Parvez Imroz is one of AFAD's Council members.
Today, the Federation received a report from its member-organization , the APDP about the latest of the series of serious threats to the life of Mr. Imroz. The report vividly recounted that for having co-convened an International People's Tribunal on Human Rights established in order to investigate the recently discovered mass graves of at least 940 people in Baramula and Kopwara, Parvez Imroz has all the more earned the ire of the violators of human rights.
According to the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, on June 30, 2008 at 10:00 p.m., 4 armed men, believed to be policemen, knocked at the house of Mr. Imroz. When asked of their identity by Mr. Imroz' wife, Rokhsana, the men were aggressively calling on Mr. Imroz to open the door and come out. The latter, aware of the intimidation he received days earlier because of the work of the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights, immediately informed his brother, Sheik Mustaq Ahmad through the backdoor. Mr. Ahmad reportedly shined a torch at Mr. Imroz door and asked the persons in front to identify themselves only to be aggressively ordered to put off the torch. Mr. Imroz nephew came out of Mr. Ahmad's house, afraid that Mr. Imroz might have been taken away. This forced the armed men to leave, but only after firing a shot in the dark believed to be pointing towards the direction of Mr. Imroz' nephew. Worse still, they threw a grenade that exploded in Mr. Imroz' compound outside his front door. On their way back, the perpetrators beat a male neighbor.
The members of the community made an announcement in the village mosque. It was later learned that the villagers stated that they saw a large armored vehicle and two gypsy cars and men wearing Central Reserve Police Force (CSRF) and Special Operations Group uniforms.
It is important to note that a week prior to the incident, the Tribunal conducted investigation into mass graves of nameless people in Baramulla and Kupwara. Together with Mr. Imroz in the Tribunal are his other co-convenors, Dr. Catenni, Advocate Desai who were likewise harassed by intelligence personnel.
The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) reiterates its strongest condemnation of this attack against its own colleague whose noble intention is to work for human rights in this war-torn paradise of Kashmir.
Mr. Parvez Imroz, who, by dint of his fearless human rights advocacy, is the 2006 recipient of the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize. As the Indian government refused to renew his passport, he was deprived from personally receiving the award. His human rights advocacy, however, has earned for him the ire of the powers-that- be, consequently resulting in the numerous threats against his person.
The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances challenges the government of India to:
1. fully investigate the incident and punish the perpetrators to the full extent of the law;
2. ensure that there would be no further threats to Mr. Imroz' life and that full protection be accorded to him and all other human rights defenders in Kashmir;
3. fully investigate the skeletons inside the closet manifested in the identified mass graves in the above-mentioned areas which was the reason for the establishment of the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights.
Finally, as the international community is commemorating this year the 10th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Defenders, we call on the Indian government to be true to its claim of being the bastion of democracy in Asia by protecting the rights of human rights defenders in particular and the rest of its citizens in general.
Signed and authenticated by:
MUGIYANTO MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO
Kebenaran Akan Terus Hidup
Jakarta : Yappika dan IKOHI
xx, 220 hlm : 15 x 22 cm
ISBN: Cetakan Pertama,
Editor : Wilson
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IKOHI was set up on September 17, 1998 by the parents and surfaced victims of disappearances. Since then, IKOHI was
assisted by KONTRAS, until October 2002 when finally IKOHI carried out it first congress to complete its organizational
structure. In the Congress, IKOHI decided its two priority of programs. They are (1) the empowerment of the social, economic,
social and cultural potential of the members as well as mental and physical, and (2) the campaign for solving of the cases
and preventing the cases from happening again. The solving of the cases means the reveal of the truth, the justice for the
perpetrators, the reparation and rehabilitation of the victims and the guarantee that such gross violation of human right
will never be repeated again in the future.
Jl. Matraman Dalam II, No. 7, Jakarta 10320