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The Suharto Case

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How could Suharto avoid prosecution for human rights abuses? For a preliminary answer, this paper provides an account of a specific and observable failure: The failure of the Suharto study team, a Komnas-HAM (National Commission of Human Rights) initiative to put the atrocities of the Suharto era on the human rights court track. It begins with prosecutorial approaches toward past abuses and a lack of coordination over transitional justice strategies in Indonesia as the background to Suharto’s non-prosecution. Then, it proceeds to trace the Suharto study team’s life in 2003 until its defeat. The fate of the Suharto team highlights the dilemma of timing between public attention and political capabilities in transitional justice. Five years after Suharto stepped down, legacies from the past prevented progress in the case, while the impact was far from explosive when new commissioners of the Komnas-HAM finally announced the findings of gross violations in 2012.

Affiliations: 1: Changwon National University


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