The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), a prominent national human righs organization about the selection process of judges for the Paniai Human Rights Court.
Responding to the declaration of the 2022 Human Rights Court Ad Hoc Judge who decided the eight selected names, we noticed an irregularity that had the potential to make the Human Rights Court for the 2014 Paniai human rights case not perform under the international human rights standards.
This observation is based on the fact that there was a delay in the declaration time which was originally stated to be delivered on Friday (22/7) to Monday (25/7). This response is also supported by the differences in the announcement of the number of participants who have passed the selection at each level of the Court, namely for the first level and the appeal. Each level is filled with four names of Judges, whereas originally, the Chairman of the Selection Committee and the Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for Judicial Affairs, Dr. Andi Samsan Nganro, S.H., M.H., stated in his statement to the media that 12 Judges would be recruited.
If indeed the Selection Committee argues that the time is of the essence to the Human Rights Court for the 2014 Paniai human rights case, our opinion is that a maximum of four Judges should have passed to serve at the first level, even though there are only two names that meet the qualifications, based on the results of the direct monitoring that we did in the interview process. The qualification we intend is about the knowledge of the selection participants regarding the elements of gross human rights violations and the concept of the chain of command as well as their understanding of the procedural law of the Human Rights Court.
We also monitor and examine the track records of a number of prospective Judges who have the potential to violate conflicts of interest. A number of Judges are retired and/or have a track record of activities close with the TNI, a background that is also shared by IS, the sole defendant at the Human Rights Court for the 2014 Paniai human rights case. There is the possibility that an Ad Hoc Judge is needed for the appeal at the Human Rights Court for the 2014 Paniai human rights case or the Human Rights Court for other gross human rights violations. The Supreme Court should be able to use the next selection mechanism at a different time.
Article 27 Paragraph 2 of Law 26/2000 concerning the Human Rights Court which regulates the number of Ad Hoc Judges as a Panel of Judges at the Human Rights Court shows the importance of the role of Ad Hoc Judges in upholding justice and the rights of victims of gross human rights violations. Thus, it is important for the Supreme Court, including the Selection Committee for Ad Hoc Judges at the Human Rights Court, to only select candidates who meet the qualifications regardless of the minimum number regulated in Article 28 of Law 26/2000.
The term of office of Ad Hoc Judges is possible for up to 10 years as stipulated in Article 28 Paragraph 3 of Law 26/2000 making the importance of choosing qualified Ad Hoc Judges even more necessary. There is a potential that not only the Human Rights Court for Serious Human Rights Violations in the Paniai Human Rights Case but that the selected Judges will also work on other serious human rights violations that will be submitted by the Attorney General’s Office. The need for qualified Ad Hoc Judges with a minimum number of 12 people can be met by means of further selection by taking into account the time that is not only based on the existence of a Human Rights Court in the near future.
The situation faced by the Supreme Court and the Selection Committee this time shows the haste so that the search process for Ad Hoc Judges at the Human Rights Court is not running optimally. This condition is also the result of the slow response of the Supreme Court which did not immediately follow up on the announcement of the 2014 Paniai Human Rights Case investigation which had been announced by the Attorney General’s Office since December 2021. The announcement of the recruitment of Ad Hoc Judges at the Human Rights Court was only released by the Supreme Court on 20 June 2022.
Therefore, we urge:
1. Maximum preparations must be carried out by the Supreme Court and must be passed by the selected participants until they are ready to convene the Human Rights Court for the 2014 Paniai Human Rights Case.
2. Organize a follow-up mechanism to select and choose at least four names in the minimum quota of Ad Hoc Judges for the Human Rights Court and who can serve at the appeals level for the Human Rights Court for the Paniai Human Rights Case if needed.