Chief Justice of Indonesia Signs Human-Rights Training Agreement
HONOLULU (June 12) – The Chief Justice of Indonesia’s Supreme Court has signed a formal agreement with the East-West Center in Honolulu and the War Crimes Studies Center at the University of California, Berkeley to expand the human-rights training that the two institutions have been providing to Indonesian law officials for several years through their joint Asian International Justice Initiative.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed at the East-West Center on June 6 details a five-year commitment to conduct training programs for Indonesian judges, prosecutors, police and the National Human Rights Commission in order to “improve knowledge of human rights standards and how they can be implemented and applied by key judicial actors to promote the rule of law and the effectiveness of human rights courts and investigations.”

“This agreement continues the cooperation that started more than four years ago on how to improve the courts in Indonesia on issues of human rights,” said Chief Justice Bagir Manan. “But this is not only a matter for law enforcement and the courts, but also how to make awareness of human rights part of daily life for all people, how to make it part of our cultural, social and political lives. Human rights can develop in Indonesia if we have continuing education for courts and judges, and for the people also. That’s why this cooperation is very important to us.”

Prof. David Cohen, director of the U.C. Berkeley War Crimes Studies Center and the Asian International Justice Initiative, said the agreement represents the “continuing commitment of the Supreme Court to be a driving force for reform in Indonesia, especially in promoting the rule of law and human rights.”

“The problem is, you don’t reform institutions overnight,” Cohen said, “which is why it’s really important that the Supreme Court is taking this long view.”

Human Rights Courts

In 1999 and 2000, the Indonesian Parliament created a system of special courts that enabled human rights cases to be brought into the judicial sphere. Because human rights law had not previously played an important role in legal education and training in Indonesia, there was an immediate need to enhance the capacity of the judiciary in dealing with such cases. The Supreme Court of Indonesia instituted training programs, in cooperation with various international partners, to address this need. Since 2003, the East-West Center and the U.C. Berkeley War Crimes Studies Center have contributed their expertise to such programs, which were primarily directed at the judges of the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court and the four regional Human Rights Courts in Jakarta, Surabaya, Makassar and Medan.

Goals of the Agreement

The June 6 agreement sets out three primary goals:

  • To continue and strengthen the ongoing process of training judges in the Human Rights Courts.

  • To expand the scope of the previous training program by broadening the range of human rights issues covered by the training beyond the law pertaining to gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity, and by extending the range of participants to include prosecutors, police and investigators of the National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia.

  • To develop a comprehensive and long-term “training the trainers” program to provide the foundation for a permanent, ongoing human rights training program staffed fully by Indonesian trainers.

Among the activities to achieve these goals will be a program of intensive workshops throughout Indonesia combining international and Indonesian experts; a “train the trainers” program including seminars, capacity building programs, study visits and professional residencies at appropriate international institutions; and conferences bringing together key stakeholders to enhance the coordination and effectiveness of human rights investigations, prosecutions, and trials.

For more information, please contact Phil Estermann at (808) 944-7464, or [email protected]

Media Contact:
Derek Ferrar
Media Relations Specialist
East-West Center
[email protected]

The EAST-WEST CENTER is an education and research organization established by the U.S. Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations and understanding among the peoples and nations of Asia, the Pacific, and the United States. The Center contributes to a peaceful, prosperous and just Asia Pacific community by serving as a vigorous hub for cooperative research, education and dialogue on critical issues of common concern to the Asia Pacific region and the United States. Funding for the Center comes from the U.S. government, with additional support provided by private agencies, individuals, foundations, corporations and the governments of the region. 

The ASIAN INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE INITIATIVE is a collaborative project between the East-West Center and the UC Berkeley War Crimes Studies Center that aims to provide on-the-ground support for rule-of-law and human-rights initiatives in Asia. Programs to date have included: legal training in cooperation with the Supreme Court of Indonesia; producing analytical reports on the Special Panel for Serious Crimes in Timor-Leste (East Timor); and organizing training in international humanitarian and criminal law for officials of Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia and a public education campaign on the tribunal process.