Indonesia: Damiri Guilty Verdict is Not Enough

Amnesty International UK Media Director, Lesley Warner, said:

'Today's verdict is surprising, but does not diminish the fact that deliberate efforts to subvert the course of justice and shield senior officials from being held fully to account have taken place.'

Major-General Damiri is the last of only 18 people brought to trial in Indonesia's ad hoc Human Rights Court on charges relating to crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999. 12 of the 18 have been acquitted, and all those convicted remain free pending appeal hearings.

Amnesty International has made repeated criticisms of the Indonesia trials and has urged the Indonesian authorities to strengthen the process to address complaints including:

  • a prosecution which has frequently presented weak and contradictory indictments, made a poor case in court and provided a version of events in East Timor in 1999 which bore little relation to reality;
  • a lack of thorough and impartial investigations;
  • an inadequate legal framework and limited jurisdiction of the Court;
  • the absence of effective victim and witness protection;
  • nd the use of inexperienced judges.

Lesley Warner added:

'Indonesia's failure to heed the warnings and to respond adequately to demands to improve the process means that the UN must now take it upon itself to follow through on its demands for justice.'

Amnesty International urges that, as a first step, the UN undertakes an independent review of the trials in order to establish what has been achieved to date and what action must now be taken to overcome existing legal, institutional and political obstacles to ensure a comprehensive and credible justice process. Such a review should examine the trials in Indonesia as well as the efforts to investigate and prosecute serious crimes also being undertaken in East Timor.

The UN-established Serious Crimes Unit has made considerable progress in recent months and has now issued indictments against 301 people to be tried by Special Panels set up in East Timor. Major General Adam Damiri is among those indicted with committing crimes against humanity. However, obstacles remain to completing the investigations and prosecutions, including the lack of cooperation by Indonesia which has refused to transfer suspects to East Timor for trial; 221 of those indicted are currently at large in Indonesia.

Lesley Warner concluded:

'Indonesia's lack of cooperation with the process in East Timor is just one more indication of its lack of commitment to a credible justice process. Having proved neither able nor willing to respond adequately, the authorities must now stand back and allow the international community to ensure justice is done and seen to be done.'

Background

It is estimated that some 1,300 people were killed in East Timor in the months preceding and in the immediate aftermath of a UN organised ballot on independence on 30 August 1999. More than a quarter of a million people were forcibly deported or fled across the border to West Timor in Indonesia, where an estimated 28,000 remain in refugee camps today. An unknown number of people were subjected to other human rights violations, including torture and rape.

These crimes were not spontaneous, but part of well coordinated efforts by members of the Indonesian military, police and civilian authorities to influence the outcome of the ballot and to disrupt the implementation of the result. The creation of, and support for militia, including through the provision of funds and weapons, were central to these efforts.

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