Verdict in trial against political activist – Judges sentence Soon Tabuni to 1 year and € 57,000 fine

On 23 April 2021, judges at the Timika District Court found Soon Tabuni guilty of violating Article 45A (2) on hate speech of Law No. 19 /2016 about the amendment of Law No. 11/2008 on Electronic Information and Transaction. He was sentenced to one year imprisonment and a fine of one billion rupiahs (about € 57,000), substitutable by six months detention. Previously, the public prosecutor had sought a sentence of one year and six months in addition to the fine of one billion rupiahs. Soon Tabuni still considers appealing against the verdict. Human rights observers understand his prosecution as an act of criminalisation and an attack on the freedom of expression.

Soon Tabuni is a member of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), a movement organisation that promotes decolonisation and political self-determination through peaceful civil resistance activities. Police officers arrested Tabuni on 26 May 2020 in the district of Kuala Kencana, Mimika Regency. The police accused him of posting hate speech content against the former Papuan Police Chief, Paulus Waterpauw, on a social media account with the user name 'Wendanax Nggembu' on 24 May 2020. The post stated that Waterpauw is responsible for the death of two medical workers who had been attacked with firearms in the regency of Intan Jaya on 22 May 2020 and the killing of two Papuan boys in Mimika on 13 April 2020.