INDONESIA: Serious Human Rights Crime Investigation at Paniai: Full of Irregularities and Considerable

An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission to the President of Republic of Indonesia

Mr. Joko Widodo
President of the Republic of Indonesia
Jl. Veteran No. 16
Jakarta Pusat
Tel: +62 21 3458 595
Fax: +62 21 3484 4759

Dear Mr. President:

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) supports statement of the Commission for the Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), Amnesty International Indonesia and the Families of the Victims of the Paniai case (December 7th until 8th 2014) highlighted many irregularities in the General Investigation process of the Serious Human Rights Violations of the Paniai case by the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic of Indonesia.

The process, which began on December 3th, 2021, has caused confusion due to the use of the term “general investigation” which is not stated in the Law Number 26 of 2000 concerning Human Rights Court, or the criminal procedural law applicable in Indonesia. We were monitoring through official information channels owned by the Attorney General’s Office and media that can be accessed by the public. According to the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), there are a number of things that must be addressed in the process of resolving the case that killed 4 teenagers and injured at least 10 people.

Based on the minimum of eight press releases made by the Attorney General’s Office from December of the year 2021 to March of the year 2022, consisting 61 of civilians and members of the TNI-POLRI have been questioned by the Attorney General’s Office investigators. This process takes place in at least three locations, namely DKI Jakarta Province, Papua Province and West Sumatra. However, based on the credible information we have received, to this day there has been no communication from the Attorney General’s Office to the Victim’s Families or the advocates for the advocacy process. Whereas in the Criminal Justice System, including for serious human rights violations, the Prosecutor is a defender and companion for victims to be able to achieve justice and other rights.

The Attorney General’s Office has also not exercised its authority to appoint ad-hoc investigators from the community as accommodated in Article 21 paragraph (3) of the Law on Human Rights Courts. Of course, the civil society involved is the one that has a proven track record of working for human rights and has concern for victims. This step is necessary to make the investigation participatory and independent in order to obtain and use the best evidence in the ongoing judicial process. The investigation of gross human rights violations that are time-limited in accordance with Article 22 of the Law on the Human Rights Court must also be considered by the Attorney General’s Office of effectiveness in order to the next process, namely the prosecution, can run well, namely in accordance with the values, principles and provisions of law and universally applicable human rights.

Lessons learned from the Human Rights Court process for three other serious human rights violations, namely the Abepura case, Tanjung Priok case and Timor Leste case created doubts for the Family of as well as the public. The lack of coordination between the Attorney General’s Office and the families of the victims, so that the weak indictments and demands of these processes are still clearly recorded. This includes the failure to hold those in the chain of command accountable, they will not only prosecute field actors and even decide on the accountability of policy makers for what happened at Paniai in the year of 2014. We are concerned that the Attorney General’s Office will not be optimal again during this process. Coupled with the fact that only one of the 15 serious human rights violations that was elevated to an investigative status during the nearly eight years of President Jokowi’s leadership, makes the doubts of the victims’ families valid.

The families of the victims of the Paniai case also expressed their doubts that the law enforcement process in the Paniai case could lead to justice. This doubt is reflected in the unresolved cases in Papua that were carried out by officers, either members of the Indonesian National Police or the Indonesian National Armed Forces. In their statement, the family of victims mentioned several cases, such as the Dogiyai case which killed two people (Dominokus Auwe and Alwisus Waine) in the year of 2011 and the murder of Pastor Jeremiah Zanambani in the year of 2020. Apart from the Paniai case, there are several other serious human rights violations that have occurred in Papua. These cases have not yet been advanced to the investigation stage, although there is sufficient preliminary evidence, including the cases of Wasior in the year of 2001 and Wamena in the year of 2003.

The situation and condition of human rights in Papua continues to decline from year to year. The discomfort of the Papuan people is actually suppressed not by fulfilling human rights but by using a security approach that often turns into violence. Various parties have submitted a number of findings, including the United Nations which stated that the situation in Papua is concerning. The deployment of a massive number of Indonesia MilitaryPersonnel (TNI), the TPN-PB (Free Papuan Movement) crackdown operation which also made civilians victims, residents who had to live in refugee camps to racism, murder and various other human rights violations are situations that pressure Papuans on a daily basis.

Based upon above mentioned argumentations, we urge:

1. The Attorney General’s Office to appoint ad-hoc human rights investigators from community elements who have the capacity in the field of human rights and side with victims to participate in the investigation of the Paniai case.

2. The Attorney General’s Office to hold several high-ranking POLRI and TNI officials responsible for the Paniai case by taking into account the chain of command concept as regulated in Article 42 of the Law on Human Rights Courts.

3. President Joko Widodo stops the ongoing human rights violations in Papua. One of them is by changing the security approach by conducting demilitarization into a welfare approach that relies on dialogue and the enforcement of human rights.


Yours Sincerely,

Basil Fernando
Director of Policy Program, Asian Human Rights Commission
Hong Kong