On 3 December 2021, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) gave the official order to form a team of 22 prosecutors under the lead of Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes which shall investigate allegations of gross human rights violations in the Paniai regency, Papua Province. The case occurred on 8 December 2014. The head of the OAG Information Department, Mr Leonard Eben Ezer Simanjuntak, explained that previous investigations into the case failed in compiling sufficient evidence. The Attorney General established the investigation team after receiving a letter from the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) in September 2021, calling for the processing of past human rights violations.
Apart from the 2014 Paniai Case, the Attorney General also instructed the team to accelerate the processing of other allegations of gross human rights violations in Indonesia. Ali Mukartono, the lead of Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes, explained that his team will also follow-up on the Indonesian mass killings of 1965-66, the Petrus killing (1982-85 Mysterious Shooting), the 1989 Talangsari case in Lampung, the tragedy at the Aceh Geudong House 1990-99, 1997-98 activist kidnappings, the Trisakti shootings, Semanggi shootings, the May 1998 riots, and the 1999 Simpang KKA case.
All of the afore mentioned cases occurred before 2000 and must therefore be processed through an ad-hoc tribunal with the consent of the Indonesian parliament. The 2014 Paniai case could be settled at a human rights court through the national human rights mechanism as stipulated in Law No. 26/2000 on the Human Rights Court, if the attorney general investigation team can compile sufficient evidence for a prosecution.
Komnas HAM representatives welcomed the formation of the team and offered to assist the OAG during the investigation. The head of the Komnas HAM follow-up team, Amiruddin, encouraged the OAG team to ensure transparency throughout the investigation process to foster trust among the public.
The chairman of the Komnas HAM representative office in Papua Province, Mr Frits Ramandey, commented that the team should not have difficulties to find witnesses and evidence, because the Paniai case occurred “only” seven years ago. Most injured victims and witnesses are still alive. Ramandey added that investigators collected a large variety of evidence in the case, such as reports of post-mortem examinations, ballistic reports, bullet shells and other pieces of evidence.
Joint security force members indiscriminately opened fire at a crowd of indigenous Protesters in the Paniai Regency on 8 December 2014. The security forces shot dead four high school students (see photo: source: JPIC Kingmi Papua) and injured at least 17 other persons with bullets during the incident. Multiple human rights fact-finding missions and a tedious investigation by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) concluded that the ‘Bloody Paniai Case’ met the legal criteria of gross human rights violations. Komnas HAM submitted the case to the OAG, as the responsible agency to initiate a trial against the perpetrators. The OAG has repeatedly returned the case files of alleged human rights violations to Komnas HAM, arguing that the files were incomplete for further processing.
Human rights observers argue that the national mechanism to settle gross human rights violations of the past and present is not functioning because the Attorney General is unwilling to initiate the trial process. Since 2002, nine case files have been passed back and forth between Komnas HAM and the OAG without any progress.