Human Rights Update West Papua - 2nd Quarter 2019

Since December 2018, more than 100 civilians – the majority of them indigenous Papuans – have allegedly died as a consequence of the ongoing armed conflict in the Nduga regency. The conflict has reportedly led to the displacement of thousands of indigenous Papuans. The military operation in Nduga is ongoing, and human rights defenders, journalists and international observers are still restricted from entering the regency. The ICP is concerned about the significant increase of extra-judicial killings in the past nine months. While the high number of killings during the 4th quarter of 2018 and the 1st quarter of 2019 is mainly related to the armed conflict in Nduga, the additional six cases of killings and one alleged suicide while in detention during the 2nd quarter are the outcome of unprofessional behaviour of security force members. Five of those cases of killings were the consequence of the use of firearms during crowd control operations in the regencies Asmath and Deiyai. The high number of 29 cases of torture and ill-treatment is related to police violence against protesters during political demonstrations or police negligence to protect peaceful Pro-Papuan protesters from violent acts by members of nationalist mass organisations (ORMAS) in the Javanese city of Malang.

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The pattern of cases during the reporting period demonstrates persistent shortcomings of the judicial system and law enforcement institutions in West Papua. Three ‘political trials’ during the reporting period indicate that judges appear to lack impartiality, hence verdicts strongly reinforce government policies rather than showing objective judgements based on legal grounds. An example is the five years imprisonment sentence for a Polish citizen who was found guilty of treason for the alleged attempt to sell weapons to the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB). It is the first time that treason charges have been pressed against a foreigner. While the evidence presented at court was considerably ‘weak’, the sentence was higher than those of previous cases with similar charges throughout the past years. The verdict underpins the government’s restrictive policy regarding the presence of foreigners in West Papua. Besides this, there were cases where the law enforcement officers’ negligence affected the health condition of arrestees and detainees in West Papuan detention facilities, resulting in the preventable deterioration of their health condition and even death.

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