Komnas HAM categorises Paniai incident as serious human rights violation – Case submitted to Attorney General

The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has officially categorized the infamous ‘Paniai Case’ of December 2014 as serious human rights violation. During a plenary session on 3 February 2020, Komnas HAM discussed the findings of five years investigation with the result that the case meets the criteria of a systematic, widespread attack against the civilian population during the incident. According to Komnas HAM chairperson, Ahmad Taufan Damanik, Komnas HAM submitted the results of the investigation to the Attorney General on 11 February 2020.

For five years, an ad-hoc investigation team under the lead of Choirul Anam had interviewed 26 witnesses and examined the site of crime in the town of Enarotali, Paniai Regency. The investigation team concluded that members of the XVII/ Cenderawasih military command and sub-commands in Enarotali were responsible for the killing of four young men. Twenty-one indigenous Papuans sustained injuries as the security forces opened fire at the crowd. The ad-hoc team also found indication for violations committed by members of the police – however, these violations could not be categorized as serious human rights violations. Komnas HAM observed that obstruction of justice had resulted in the obscuration of facts and a delayed law enforcement process.

The news from Jakarta triggered prompt responses in West Papua. The Papuan Customary Council (Dewan Adat Papua) demanded an accelerated establishment of the human rights court on West Papua soil to allow the Papuan people to witness the trials. The only human rights violation in West Papua which has ever been processed through a human rights court occurred in the Jayapura Suburb Abepura in 2000. The case was processed in 2004 in the city of Makassar, South Sulawesi. The alleged perpetrator was finally acquitted.

The Attorney General’s office returned the investigation dossier to Komnas HAM on 19 March 2020, claiming that the dossier failed to meet the requirements an investigation into a gross human rights violation.


Many other cases which had been investigated by Komnas HAM were never processed by the Attorney Generals office, which argued that the case files were incomplete.

The national mechanism for legal processing of cases of genocide and crimes against humanity is stipulated in Law 22/2000 on human rights courts. According to the sections four and five of the law, KOMNAS HAM has the mandate to investigate a case whereas the attorney general examines the inquiry report and submits it to a human rights ad-hoc court, if the files fulfil the legal requirements for a trial.

In reality the national mechanism is not functioning. Since 2002, the nine cases files have been passed back and forth between KOMNAS HAM and the attorney General’s office without any progress.