Law of Armed Conflict and Human Rights Training Course for the Army’s Special Forces

For the seventh consecutive year the Indonesia Programme at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights in Cooperation with FRR Law Office Jakarta have run a training course in the law of armed conflict and human rights for the Indonesian Army’s Special Forces, Kopassus from September 8 to 11. This time the training took place in the in quarters of Group 3 of Kopassus in Cijantung in the outskirts of Jakarta. Group 3 is a specially selected unit specialising in anti-terror, unconventional warfare and intelligence.

Example of perfedy from field simulation exercise.

Soldiers’ particular responsibilities as state actors

In addition to a Danish and a Norwegian officer; the Indonesia Programme’s director; Indonesian officers and university lecturers taught at the course.

Whereas the trainings have a practical approach seeking to address the kinds of human rights challenges the soldiers might experience in the field it also briefly introduces the participants to international law, spells out what an international treaty is, what ratification means, and from this; what state responsibility and individual liability for state actors imply.

A recurring issue at trainings like this, which was also brought up by the participants this time, is how international human rights law could be understood as law when no effective penal sanctions could be imposed, and no authoritative body is tasked to ensure their effective implementation? Such objections pave the way for presenting brief outlines of what international criminal law is, as well as domestic mechanisms in Indonesia established with a view to hold perpetrators accountable.

Proper use of force

Core principles in humanitarian law such as distinction and proportionality were exercised during the training. So was targeting procedures; starting from identifying military objectives, distinguishing them from civilian objects, making proportionality assessments, and finally ensuring precaution in attack.

Also, the link between successful counter insurgency operations and compliance with human rights norms was also highlighted during the training. Rules of engagement as a means to ensure proper use of force was introduced, and the torture prohibition in international as well as domestic law was elaborated on as an example of a human right calling for special attention from security forces.

Tags: humanitarian law, Indonesia
Published Sep. 25, 2014 3:17 PM - Last modified Sep. 26, 2014 2:31 PM