INDONESIA: Investigation into the Paniai case in Papua goes nowhere

Ever since the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) established the Ad Hoc investigation team for the Paniai case, under the decision 1 March 2016 letter of the Chair of the Komnas HAM (Number 009 / Komnas HAM / III / 2016), there is no progress in this case (see case details at AHRC-UAC-089-2015 and a related joint statement here).

The case reflects the failure of Indonesian government in upholding human rights in order to protect civilians, as mandated by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is a state party. The Covenant obligates the government to protect the right to life as fundamental and non-derogable rights of its citizens. In line, the government is also mandated under Paragraph 28A of the Indonesian Constitution (UUD 1945) on the protection of the right to life.

The Paniai case is an example of a blatant human rights violation in Papua. Despite there being clear and strong evidence suggesting gross violations of human rights in this case, the Komnas HAM has not yet produced a report or issued any recommendation to bring the case to the prosecution stage.

So far, the government has not provided any support to Komnas HAM’s effort. And, the Military and the police have not fully cooperated with Komnas HAM; moreover, the Military and police seem reluctant to punish their officers and personnel before the court, under fair trial principles.

President Joko Widodo actually has authority and power to ensure that Komnas HAM can examine military personnel and police officers who are allegedly involved in human rights cases. In this regard, under Law No. 34 of 2004 on the Indonesian Military, the President as the head of the State and the highest commander of the Military and police, can order the Chief of Military and the Chief of police to cooperative with the Komnas HAM’s investigation effort.

President Widodo must show his promise and commitment to Papua that the government will uphold protection for indigenous Papuans. Because of the failure of the government and the law enforcement agency to prosecute the perpetrators who have committed gross violations of human rights in the Paniai case, the situation has worsened in Papua. Indigenous Papuan’s trust upon the government will continue to fall, and international pressure on the government will intensify, as combat against impunity goes beyond the border and territory of the State.

Therefore, the government has to show its willingness to fully support Komnas HAM to investigate and summon the perpetrators. The government, in particular, the Witness and Victims Protection Agency (LPSK), has to undertake the important role to guarantee and provide protection and remedy for victims and family of victims. Further, the Ombudsman, the Parliament, as well as media, must be involved to monitor and ensure that investigation and prosecution in this case will be conducted without undue delay.