Update on Biak police detention suicide case – Victim’s family demand transparency and justice

The national human rights mechanisms in Indonesia remain highly ‘unattractive’ for victims of human rights violations and their relatives, contributing to conditions in which perpetrators of security forces enjoy impunity while the victims fail to access justice and restitution. The case of Ronaldo Yawan (21 years) is emblematic for the shortcomings of Indonesia’s national human rights system. Ronaldo was found dead on 15 June 2018 in his detention cell in Biak, tow days after police officers arrested and detained him. The officers claimed that Ronaldo Yawan hung himself using his belt. For four months, Ronaldo’s relatives have in vain requested a transparent investigation into his death.

The relatives have reason to believe that Ronaldo may have died as a result of torture during detention. The Biak district police claims, it has taken disciplinary sanctions against nine police officers for negligent behavior and violations of the police code of conduct. However, Ronaldo’s relatives were neither informed about the outcome of the disciplinary procedure, nor was the autopsy report shared with the family. There are strong indications for shortcomings in the investigation into Ronaldo Yawan’s death. According to human rights lawyer, Imanuel Rumayom, the 16 other detainees whose cell was located next to Ronaldo Yawan’s detention cell, were not even questioned. Moreover, the recordings of a security camera inside the detention facility had been distorted at the time of the incident. Ronaldo Yawan’s family demands an independent investigation and a public court proceeding in the case.