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Indonesia court overturns law creating Truth and Reconciliation Commission

[JURIST] The Indonesian Constitutional Court [official website] on Friday overturned as unconstitutional a 2004 law establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission [ICTJ backgrounder, PDF] in Indonesia [JURIST news archive] to investigate, compensate, and resolve many human rights violations that occurred during the 1966-1998 authoritarian regime of former President Haji Mohammad Suharto [CNN profile; JURIST news archive]. Three parts of the 46-article law were challenged by a coalition of human rights groups, but the court rejected the entire law, holding that immunity from prosecution can only be given to people who have admitted to violating human rights, and that immunity could only be granted by the president, not the commission. The court also held that "it is legally illogical [to allow the requesting of] compensation, restitution, rehabilitation and amnesty... simultaneously" to the commission before it has conducted any investigation to determine if "gross human rights violations actually occurred." The ruling is a setback to victims and family members seeking compensation and information concerning the human rights abuses, but it does not prevent the Indonesian government from exploring other legal avenues to resolve past human rights abuses.

Although the legislation was passed by in September 2004, the commission is still not established. The government was still at the early stages of member selection before Friday's ruling. Reuters has more. The Jakarta Post has local coverage.

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