Human Rights a Critical Aspect of Cementing Peace in Aceh

The question whether a Human Rights Court for Aceh should have the power to judge abuses committed before the 2005 peace agreement was signed remains controversial, but is a critical element of cementing the 2005 peace agreement.

The agreement calls for the court to be established, but two political parties with a majority in the Indonesian parliament—the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and Golkar—oppose giving the court retroactive powers.  They charge that doing so would lead to “unfair” prosecutions of military officers, and that another new body, the Commission of Truth and Reconciliation (which cannot impose criminal penalties) should deal with past human rights violations.

Acehnese and international human rights groups have documented many cases killings, rapes, torture, “disappearances,” and displacements.  They have called for all serious violations during the 30-year conflict to be prosecuted.  New York-based Human Rights Watch argues that “ongoing impunity for human rights violations in Aceh has created an environment of mistrust between the people of Aceh and the Indonesian government.”  The organization has called on major international actors, including the United States, European Union, Japan, and the World Bank, to push for an unfettered human rights court.

Human Rights Watch, “Indonesia: Aceh Rights Court Must Address Past Abuse,” News Release, New York, 26 May 2006.
Tiarma Siboro, “Law to ‘Ensure Impunity’ for Aceh Criminals,” The Jakarta Post, 24 May 2006.