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Indonesian Elections An Opportunity For Progress On Human Rights

Human Rights Watch today welcomed Indonesia's first free elections in forty-five years and urged both winners and losers to set forth a clear human rights agenda.

One of the good things about a democratically elected government is that if the victors don't have a well-defined human rights program, the opposition can play a key role in shaping one," said Sidney Jones, the organization's Asia director. "Examining abuses of the past is important, but so is providing protection for the future."

A national human rights program could include the following:

Role of the Military and Police

commitment to ending all civilian militia and civil guard organizations with a specific timetable for doing so. In the interests of accountability and protection of human rights, the Indonesian military should not provide training, equipment, or other kinds of support to any groups or organizations outside its own ranks.
in consultation with local human rights organizations, the National Commission on Human Rights and the National Commission on Violence Against Women, as well as with international human rights and humanitarian organizations, initiation of a program for human rights training of the military and police.
in consultation with community leaders and organizations, exploration of non-military means of restoring security and resolving conflict in regions such as Aceh and Ambon.
development of a concrete program for ending the military's "dual function," the doctrine that enshrines the military's role in social and political affairs.
establishment of civilian control and review mechanisms for the police, formally separated from the military last April.
Internally Displaced

immediate attention to the problems of those displaced by violence in Aceh, Ambon, West Kalimantan, East Timor and elsewhere, including the granting of full and unimpeded access by international agencies to all internally displaced.
commitment to upholding the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) principles for protection of internally displaced persons.
Protection of Vulnerable Populations

repeal of all discriminatory legislation and regulations relating to Indonesia's ethnic Chinese.
development of a witness protection program to facilitate prosecutions of those suspected of committing sexual violence, including rape.
review of land titling, acquisition, and expropriation procedures with a view toward giving indigenous populations more equitable access to resources and more participation in decision-making about how land is to be owned, used, and transferred.
public announcement of an end to discriminatory treatment of those detained as suspected supporters of the Indonesian Communist Party after 1965 or their children or grandchildren and establishment of formal mechanisms for political rehabilitation.
East Timor

support for U.N.-monitored efforts to resolve the conflict in East Timor through a ballot on the territory's political status.
take all measures possible to disarm civilian militias
Strengthening Judicial Independence

intensification of efforts to weed out corruption in the legal system
encouragement of international support for training in criminal justice
an end to civil servant status for judges
Past Abuses

encouragement of discussion, debate, and academic research on the events of 1965-66.
initiation of prosecutions for summary executions and torture in Aceh, Irian Jaya, and elsewhere where victims or their families are willing to come forward to file charges. The U.N. Special Rapporteurs on Torture and Summary and Arbitrary Executions respectively should be invited to Aceh and Irian Jaya as an indication of the government's determination to address this issue.
renewal of effort to account for political activists who disappeared in 1997-98 and prosecution of the perpetrators.
Acceptance of International Standards on Human Rights

ratification of key international human rights treaties including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

"The new parliament has an unprecedented popular mandate to move away from the abuse and corruption of the past," said Jones. "Setting a human rights agenda would be an excellent way to start."

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