Talking about International Criminal Court (ICC), second chance might not be enough for Indonesian government to ratify this treaty. 2013 passed without any breakthrough, whereas Indonesia National Action Plan for Human Rights (RANHAM) 2009-2014 has specifically prescribe that this treaty should have been ratified last year. This is the second delay after Indonesia called off the ratification in 2008 as its first.
Fears that ICC will follow up past human rights violation cases seems to be the main reason why the government of Indonesia still being indecisive on this matter. But that seems too exaggerated, because article 11 of Rome Statute has clearly stated that ICC’s jurisdiction applies only to crimes committed after a country ratified. This point was also highlighted by ICC President, Song Sang-hyun in interview with the Jakarta Post daily during his recent visit to Jakarta. He said that joining ICC means look forward to the future. There is absolutely no retroactivity (Jakarta Post, 18 December 2013). So, why Indonesian government still unconvinced about the urgency of this treaty ratification?
At national level, the timing of ratification and national election might explain why. Like it or not, domestic political calculation might have intruded to all aspects, including government policy. Although ICC could not bring those who really responsible for past human rights cases to the court, but ratification of ICC certainly could raise human rights issues up to the table of 2014 election.
This would be absolute misfortune for electability of some political figures whose names have been allegedly involved in past human rights violation cases. While for those, whose names are relatively clean, supporting the idea of ratification might be tricky. Considering low levels of electability for almost entire political parties and the need to reach presidential threshold, political figures have determined their measures carefully by making wider space to establish coalition. Support for ICC would definitely narrowing chance for political elite to establish coalition with some figures whose names allegedly involved in human rights cases. In this regards, transactional political practice has made the decision-making environment harder for ICC to be ratified.
However, those ‘practical’ conditions and political consideration certainly cannot be a justification for Indonesia as a state to delay ratification of ICC. If the political elite wise enough to look closer, bringing subject of ICC to public stage would be healthy for the development of democracy in Indonesia. It would stimulate national discourse on what has been lacking in our law system, especially in bringing justice to the people. As a democratic country, bringing those who responsible for human rights violations to justice are not something to be ashamed of, otherwise it would be a success story for a state in upholding justice and protecting its people.
In this regards, the ratification of ICC could give a new breakthrough in providing alternative option (read: international court) if similar cases like Tanjung Priok, Semanggi, or forced disappearance of 1997-1998 activists, occurs in the future and national courts are unable or unwilling to exercise its jurisdiction. At this point, it is clear that concerns about ICC’s jurisdiction that could supersede our national law system are less necessary. As long as our national judicial system took serious measure to respond such cases, it would automatically eliminate the ability of the ICC to prosecute.
Meanwhile at international level, the ‘missing supports’ from big powers such as United States, China and Russia, have made lower international pressure to the countries who have not yet ratify ICC, including Indonesia. Nevertheless, along with universality of human rights values in the present decade, human rights violations are considered as serious problem. Sooner or later the bigger dichotomy would be created between states that are committed to prosecute crimes against humanity and those-whose not (Maria Smith, 25 February 2013). When it happens, high political pressure and isolation are difficult to avoid. So in this case, will Indonesia wait until the pressure real high? Or simply put its awareness to join the world fight against humanity?
The fact shows that in the last couple of years, Indonesia has been enjoying international spotlights as a ‘good example of democratic developing country’ which expressed through various compliments from world leaders or even awards. But it does not mean that Indonesia is allowed to stop improving itself. It has to be fair with the past that Indonesia’s track record in enforcing human rights has nothing but awful stories. Therefore hesitation of the Indonesian government to ratify ICC definitely would increase world’s negative assumption that it is true Indonesia has human rights violations problems either in past, present or even future.
As a member of UN Human Rights Council, it is indubitable for the Indonesian government to prove that its commitment to enforce human rights values is more than formality to receive compliments or awards. Indonesia needs to be ascertained to ratify ICC and send a clear message to the world that the state is ready to accept accountability for its actions. That kind of message would definitely emphasize Indonesia’s position in supporting law enforcement and human rights, as mandated in 1945 constitution. Hence, it is time to prove that Indonesia really deserved statesman award 2013 by acting like one (read: ratifying ICC as its commitment), rather than being political elite who put group’s interest at second after nothing. (Diandra Megaputri Mengko, Kandidat Peneliti pada Pusat Penelitian Politik LIPI)