Recent violent incidents involving Indonesian security force members have brought the issue of widespread impunity in West Papua once again into the public spotlight. Human rights organisations keep reporting human rights violations from the easternmost Indonesian provinces – almost all involve the police and military. In none of the cases, security forces members have been held accountable. The director of the Papuan Legal Aid Institute (LBH Papua), Emanuel Gobay (see photo, source: Suara Papua), mentioned the Oneibo shooting as a typical example for the lack of accountability in West Papua.
The incident occurred on 1 August 2017 in the Deiyai Regency of Papua Province. Police officers opened fire at a group of angry villagers who had thrown stones at the officers. Yulianus Pigai, 27, was shot dead while bullets seriously injured ten others. An Indonesian National Police ethics panel inquiry into the case ruled that four officers were guilty of “improper conduct” by deliberately firing on the crowd with live ammunition. The ethics panel ruled that the four officers were demoted and must apologise for misconduct. None of the perpetrators was held accountable in a public trial, putting aside that the officers’ non-procedural use of firearms had caused the death of one person and injuries to ten others.
The shooting in Oneibo is one of many examples indicating discriminative practices in Indonesia’s law enforcement system. State institutions like the police and military continue to protect their personnel from criminal prosecution if allegations of killing of torture are brought against them, said Gobay during an interview with media outlet Jubi. He urged the police to immediately provide information about the current stage of investigations to the public before the case becomes statute-barred.
The forceful dispersal was also investigated by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM). According to Emanuel Gobay, Komnas HAM never published the results of its investigation. Law enforcement institutions should keep victims of human rights violations, and their relatives informed about the legal process to uphold victims’ rights, he said.