Papuan couple arbitrarily arrested, beaten and detained – both victims demand strict sanctions against police and public prosecutor

A panel of judges acquitted Agustinus Bebe and Adolfina Sarce Nari on 22 February 2021. The verdict set an end to 148 days of arbitrary detention. The couple was unlawfully arrested due to extortion allegations on 17 July 2020 after they had requested the payment of outstanding debts. The Papuan Association of Human Rights Lawyers (PAHAM Papua) explained that the police officers had violated multiple criminal procedure provisions the law enforcement operation. The officers failed to show a warrant during the arrest. They tortured Agustinus Bebe and his wife during detention at the Papua Regional Police (Polda Papua Headquarters), forcing them to sign a confession letter. The public prosecutor submitted the case to the Jayapura District Court despite the lack of evidence collected during the police investigation. Agustinus Bebe and Adolfina Sarce Nari demand strict sentences for the police officers and the public prosecutor.

According to Agustinus Bebe, torture and unlawful detention were not the only forms of ill-treatment they experienced. "My wife was also arrested even though she had been sick for three days but the officers in the detention facility ignored her. I was also very sick but was left to myself - the investigators were the same; they did not care". The couple could not work for seven months and take care of their two children, who are both still minors. After being acquitted, the police officers continued to detain the Agustinus Bebe and Adolfina Sarce Nari until PAHAM Papua lawyers complained against the illegal detention.

Agustinus Bebe and Adolfina Sarce Nari declared the following demands during a press conference at the PAHAM Papua office in Jayapura on 23 February 2021 (see photo, source Suara Papua).

1.) The Papua Police Chief shall immediately evaluate the performance of the investigating officers;
2.) The investigators in charge of the case shall be given strict sanctions;
3.) The high prosecutor's office in Papua shall immediately evaluate the performance of the Public Prosecutor who handled the cases;
4.) The public prosecutors in charge of the case shall be given strict sanctions;
5.) The Criminal Procedure Code should always guide law enforcement officers in Papua if they enforce the law.