Update on arbitrary detention and torture of 14 activists in Merauke – Pre-trial against Merauke Police Chief

Thirteen activists of the West Papua National Committee have filed a pre-trial challenging the legality of their arrest by members of the Merauke District Police on 13 December 2020. Their lawyers argue that the detention was illegal because it violated multiple provisions of the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code (KUHAP). They demand the unconditional release of all 14 detainees. Police officers allegedly tortured the activists and failed to arrange warrants before the police operation and promptly inform the relatives about the arrest. The pre-trial against the Merauke District police chief, Untung Sangaji, was launched on 18 January 2021.

The pre-trial is still ongoing. The judges have examined written evidence and questioned multiple witnesses on both sides. An expert for criminal law of the Cenderawasih University shared her assessment of the case during the court hearing on 21 January 2020. According to lawyer and Director of the Papua Legal Aid Institute (LBH Papua), Emanuel Gobay, the expert witness considered the arrest and detention of the 14 activists illegal. There were strong indications that the house search and the seizure of evidence, were conducted without a warrant. Besides, the activists were reportedly subjected to torture during arrest. Observers expect a decision in the pre-trial by the end of this week.