The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the torture of a priest in Pania, Papua, which took place on 2 March 2013. The priest was arrested and beaten by five police officers after randomly shouted in front of a police station. As a result, the priest was injured but the police have failed to provide any medical assistance to him. Instead, they demanded the priest’s family to give them some money for his release.
Based on AHRC’s interview with a local independent activist who documented the case, Yunus Gobai is the former leader of KINGMI Maranatha Nabire Church. On 2 March 2013 at around 8.30 in the morning, Rev. Yunus went into the front yard of Enarotali Sub-District police station and shouted several random words while running around the yard. According to the local activist, the reason of why Rev. Yunus doing that was because he has been suffering from epilepsy and mental problems.
Responding to Rev. Yunus’s shoutings, five police officers approached and started beating him in the front yard of the police station. The officers repeatedly beaten Rev. Yunus with their fists until his nose as well as lips were bleeding and his head along with his arm were wounded. The police later detained him in the police station.
The police asked Rev. Yunus’s family for some money as a condition for his release. A member of the Paniai Legislative Council (DPRD Paniai) helped the family and paid IDR 1,000,000 (approximately USD 100) to the police so that Rev. Yunus was later released on the same day at 10.30. The AHRC strongly suspects the money asked by the police was illegal. It cannot be an official bail fee as there has been no criminal charge imposed on Rev. Yunus.
The latest information received by the AHRC reveals that Rev. Yunus’s injuries have been treated and he is recovering at the moment. However, it was his family who bear the cost of the medical treatment as the police have failed to take any measures to treat Rev. Yunus’s injuries despite the fact that it was their officers who were responsible for it.
The local activist who documented the case informed the AHRC that it is unlikely Rev. Yunus or his family will lodge a complaint to the police on this matter. He mentioned that the chance is very slim for the police to take their complaint and investigate it seriously.
His observation was not unreasonable. Instead, it was supported by actual facts happened in other similar cases. Most of the time, state officials who perpetrated torture or other unnecessary and excessive violence are unpunished or imposed with light sentence that do not reflect the gravity of the abuse. In the case on torture of 20 prisoners at Abepura Correctional Facility took place in January this year, for instance, the police have been failing to hold a criminal investigation as of today.
Impunity enjoyed by state officials who perpetrated torture is partially caused by the absence of legal mechanism to investigate torture allegation, particularly when such abuse is committed by police or military officers. In cases where the perpetrators are police officers, the only mechanism available is submitting a criminal complaint or breach of code of conduct – both are under the authority of the police. In cases where torture is perpetrated by the military, the perpetrators will be tried by a military tribunal which is likely to be held with no transparency.
Please write to the authorities we have listed below, calling them to ensure the torture and ill-treatment allegation at stake is effectively and impartially investigated. The perpetrators shall be held criminally responsible and sentenced to proportionate punishment that reflects the gravity of the abuse. Please also urge the authorities to ensure that Rev. Yunus and his family are granted adequate compensation.
The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment asking for his intervention in this case.
INDONESIA: Police officers tortured a priest in Paniai, Papua and required bribe for his release
Name of victim: Yunus Gobai, 55 year old
Alleged perpetrators: Unidentified five officers from Enarotali Sub-District Police
Date of incident: 2 March 2013
Place of incident: Enarotali, Paniai, Papua
I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the torture of Yunus Gobai, a priest resides in Pania, Papua. I was told that five unidentified officers from Enarotali Sub-District police station beat him repeatedly on 2 March 2013 at 8.30 am that the Reverend was injured on his head, lips and nose. According to the information I have received, the officers approached Rev. Yunus and started beating him in the front yard of Enarotali Sub-District police station after the Reverend ran around the police’s yard and shouted several random sentences in front of it. My local resource has informed that the reason of why Rev. Yunus did it was because he has been suffering from epilepsy and mental disturbance.
Regardless of what Rev. Yunus has done and whatever the motive of his behaviour was, the police officers’ responses to it are illegal, inappropriate, and have violated Rev. Yunus’s right not to be tortured. I am aware that such right is guaranteed under the 1945 Constitution and that the Chief of Indonesian National Police has issued a regulation prohibiting his officers to commit torture while performing their duty.
I am also disturbed to learn that in this case the police had asked Rev. Yunus’s family for some money as a condition for his release. With the help from a member of Paniai Legislative Council (DPRD Paniai), the family later paid IDR 1,000,000 to the police that Rev. Yunus was released at 10.30 am on the same day. I strongly suspect the money required by the police was illegal as Rev. Yunus was released without any charge instead of released on bail.
Considering above, I am urging you to investigate the torture and corruption allegations on this case. I am concerned that impunity is widely enjoyed by state agents who committed torture in the country despite the government’s commitment it made to international community to abolish torture. The investigation should be held effectively as well as impartially and those who are responsible for the abuses shall be held criminally responsible. Punishment handed down to them should reflect the seriousness of the crime and adequate compensation should be granted to Rev. Yunus and his family.
I look forward to your positive and effective response in this case.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
President of Republic of Indonesia
Jl. Veteran No. 16
Tel: +62 21 386 3777, 350 3088.
Fax: + 62 21 344 2223, 3483 4759
2. Ms. Harkristuti Harkrisnowo
General Director of Human Rights
Ministry of Law and Human Rights
Jl. HR Rasuna Said Kav. 6-7
Kuningan, Jakarta 12940
Tel: +62 21 525 3006, 525 3889
Fax: +62 21 525 3095
3. Gen. Timur Pradopo
Chief of the Indonesian National Police
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta Selatan 12110
Tel: +62 21 384 8537, 726 0306
Fax: +62 21 7220 669
4. Ir. Gen. Drs. Tito Karnavian
Chief of Papua Regional Police
Jl. Dr. Sam Ratulangi No. 8
Tel: +62967 531 014, 533 396
Fax: +62967 533 763
5. Kombes Pol. Drs. Sudarsono
Head of Security and Professionalism Division
Papua Regional Police
Jl. Dr. Sam Ratulangi No. 8
Tel: +62967 536 198
6. Mr. Otto Nur Abdullah
Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission
Jl. Latuharhary No.4-B
Tel: +62 21 392 5227-30
Fax: +62 21 392 5227