INDONESIA: Human Rights Court for Paniai Case in Papua must Apply International Human Rights Standard

An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission to the Indonesia Supreme Court

Professor. Dr. Muhammad Syarifuddin, SH., MH
The Chairperson of the Indonesian Supreme Court (Mahkamah Agung RI)
Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara No 9-13
Tel: +62 21 3843348, +62 21 3810350, +62 21 3457661
Fax: + 62 21 3453553, +62 21 3454546
Jakarta 10110

Dear Chairperson:

INDONESIA: Human Rights Court for Paniai Case in Papua must Apply International Human Rights Standard

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) demands the Supreme Court of the Republic of Indonesia to hold a Human Rights Court for gross violations of human rights of the Paniai Case in Papua which occured between 7 – 8 December of 2014 as fairly as possible from the start even before the trial was held.

After the previous three Human Rights Courts (both ad hoc and permanent) acquitted all defendants 18 years ago, the quality of the Human Rights Court for the Paniai Incident is an important milestone to prove to the entire community: who is the real justice in this country, the victims or the perpetrators.

According to the information we received from the national human rights organization namely the Commission for the Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KontraS) monitoring based on ongoing developments, we found a number of important notes for us to convey.

Therefore, on this occasion, we demanded the Supreme Court to:

First, hold a hearing on the Paniai case at the District Court in Papua, instead of the Makassar District Court in South Sulawesi province. In June 2022, the Attorney General’s Office tried to transfer the case files to the Makassar District Court as the location for the Human Rights Court. Whereas Article 45 of Law 2/2021 jo. Law 21/2000 on Special Autonomy for Papua jo. Article 3 paragraph (1) of Law 26/2000 concerning the Human Rights Court stipulates that gross human rights violations in the Papua region must be tried by the Human Rights Court which is also located in Papua. The certain placement is consequential to provide access for victims, witnesses and Papuans at large to be able to attend the trial in person. Reflecting on experience, distance and access constraints from cases that occurred in Papua and were tried in Makassar proved to be hampering the process of the Human Rights Court for the Abepura Incident in the year of 2000. Therefore, based on the law, the trial of the Paniai case should be held at least at the Jayapura District Court.

Second, open the public access to be the witnesses of the interview test of 33 candidates for ad hoc judges at the Paniai Human Rights Court for the transparency and accountably, and extend the time for receiving public reports on the track records of the candidates. Reflecting on the election of the National Human Rights Commission Commissioner which is also ongoing, where public input is received until after the interview test is held openly. Thus the public can oversee the process and also know the capacity of the candidates from the answers given. However, the current time limit for reporting available to the public to provide input on prospective ad hoc judges, namely Monday, July 18, 2022, limits the public from providing input even before the interview test is carried out thus the variables for monitoring candidates that can be carried out by the public are restricted.

Third, the Indonesian Military and the Police ( TNI/Polri) both active and retired are not allowed to be judges due to a potential conflict of interest because Paniai is a crime against humanity involving TNI/Polri institutions based on the results of Komnas HAM investigations. In the results of its investigation, Komnas HAM stated that the occurrence of the Paniai Incident on 7-8 December in the year of 2014 was the result of a nation policy through the Indonesian National Police and the Indonesian Armed Forces that established a vulnerable area in Paniai.

The results of the investigation then specifically mentioned a number of TNI/Polri officials who needed further investigation on this case. Meanwhile, at least two of the current 33 candidates for ad hoc judges came from TNI backgrounds. Thus the Supreme Court can prevent potential conflicts of interest from a number of prospective judges from the TNI considering that the defendant is also a retired TNI.

A number of notes above should be a concern for the Supreme Court to ensure the fulfilment of justice and other rights for victims and the public in general. A good judicial process by examining irregularities that arise in each process from an early age by the Supreme Court which leads to the revelation of the truth can be the forerunner to the fulfilment of the rights of the victims.

Thus we submit this letter. Thank you for the attention.

Yours Sincerely,

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