KOMNAS HAM observes deterioration of human rights situation throughout 2019 as Govt institutions block the settlement of human rights violations

The human rights situation in West Papua throughout 2019 has significantly deteriorated. This assessment is based on statistics by the Papuan Representative Office of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM Perwakilan Papua). Komnas HAM Perwakilan Papua Chairperson, Frits Ramandey, stated on 10 December 2019 (see intro image, source: Jubi) that his office documented 154 cases of alleged human rights violations throughout 2019. This number has significantly increased in comparison to previous years, with 68 of such alleged cases in 2018 and 89 cases in 2017. Fifty-nine of the cases were directly filed to the representative office while the remaining 95 cases were documented after the office had taken note of the incident through other information channels.

Ramandey claimed that his office had “resolved” 47 out of the 59 direct complaints, mainly those that mentioned the involvement of police members. “We consider a case resolved when the responsible authorities have been questioned and sanctioned. We don’t take into consideration the length and adequacy of the sanctions but view this from a perspective of legal accountability”, said Ramandey.

The majority of cases were categorised as alleged violations of the right to live with 48 alleged cases between 2015 and 2019. Twenty cases covered violations of the rights of suspects (12 cases), detainees or prisoners (8 cases), three cases in relation to the right to education, eight cases regarding the right to security and eight labor rights violations. The statistic figures indicated that security force members were responsible for the majority of cases between 2015 and 2018. In 2019, the majority of violations were allegedly committed by “groups” engaging in collective acts of vandalism, followed by the police with 25% of the cases.   

Komnas HAM Perwakilan Papua is currently working on the finalisation of case files in relation to the ‘Bloody Paniai Incident’ on 8 December 2014. Ramandey explained that his office is assessing whether the incident meets the legal criteria of ‘serious human rights violations’ which must be processed with the involvement of the Attorney General’s Office at a human rights court. He explained that his Komnas HAM is facing multiple challenges during the investigation because military headquarters (Mabes TNI) refused the Komnas HAM’s request to question TNI members without direct order from the coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Affairs (Menko Polhukam). Ramandey stated that Komnas HAM had already submitted such a request to the Menko Polhukam, but received the answer that such a request must be directly submitted and approved by the Mabes TNI.

The Indonesian Menko Polhukam, Mahfud MD, stated in an interview with CNN Indonesia on 10 December 2019, that there were only 12 unresolved cases of serious human rights violations in Indonesia, all of them taking place before 1998 during the New Order period under military dictator Suharto. He claimed that the large number of victims in relation to the recent anti-racism riots in West Papua occurred as a result of horizontal violence between civil citizens, while security force members attempted to protect the “victims from the rioters”.

Mahfud’s statement contradicts the statements by Indonesian Government officials during the last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council on 3 May 2017. During the presentation of Indonesia’s National Report, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Retno Marsudi, explained that an integrated team under the lead of the Minister for Internal, Legal and Security Affairs and Komnas HAM investigated allegations of human rights violations throughout 2016. According to the ad-hoc team, three out of twelve investigated cases in West Papua between 1996 and 2014 – namely the cases in Wasior, Wamena, and Paniai – were identified as serious human rights violations and would be processed by Komnas HAM and the General Attorney. Marsudi claimed that the remaining nine investigated cases were of pure criminal nature and will be prosecuted by the Papuan Regional Police (Polda Papua).