Criminalisation of human rights defenders in West Papua continues – Sorong police chief presses legal charges against Papuan lawyer Leonardo Ijie

The Papuan Law Enforcement and Human Rights Coalition has called on the Sorong Police Chief to halt the legal process against human rights advocate Mr Leo Ijie. They understand this prosecution as an attempt to criminalise him for his professional work as a lawyer and emphasize that advocates should not face civil or criminal prosecution when carrying out their professional duties in good faith. This protection is stipulated in Article 16 of Law No. 18/2003 on Advocates. Mr Ijie is working for the Kaki Abu Legal Aid Institute (LBH Kaki Abu), a non-profit organisation providing legal aid to persons who can not afford professional legal counsel. The police are processing Mr Ijie as a suspect in a hate speech case.

On 30 May 2023, police investigators began processing Mr Ijie as a suspect, charging him with Article 45A (2) in conjunction with Article 28 (2) of Law No 19/2016 concerning Amendments to Law No. 11/2008 on Electronic Information and Transactions and/or Article 156 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) and/or Article 156A KUHP. The determination of Mr Ijie as a suspect is contained in police letter No S.TAP/92/V/2-23/Reskrim Sorong Resort Police (Polres).

On 3 January 2022, Mr Ijie criticised the Sorong District Attorney’s Office and the Sorong District Court for transferring the trial against his clients Maikel Yaam, Amos Ky, Robianus Yaam, Maklom Same, Yakobus Worait, and Agustinus Yaam from Sorong to the Makassar District Court. The transfer was carried out without the knowledge of Mr Ijie and his colleagues. The Coalition contends that Mr Ijie’s actions are part of his duty as an advocate to provide legal services inside and outside the court. They align with the advocates’ role defined in Advocates Law No 18/2003.

Mr Emanuel Gobay, the litigation coordinator of the Papuan Human Rights Coalition, added that Leonard Ijie had already clarified and publicly apologized for allegations of hate speech against him in line with Article 39 (2) of Law No. 19/2016 on the Amendment to Law No. 11/2008 on Information and Electronic Transactions. The Coalition argues that designating Ijie as a suspect violates the Chief of Police circular letter SE/6/X/2015, as well as Article 16 of the Advocates Law and Article 11 of Law No. 16/2011 concerning Legal Aid.

The Coalition urges the Sorong Police Chief to immediately halt the criminalization of Mr Ijie, respecting the provisions of the Advocates Law and the Legal Aid Law. They called upon the National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia (Komnas HAM RI) to immediately address the attempted criminalisation of Mr Ijie as a human rights advocate.

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Sorong District Court (-0.8880333733324189, 131.27850779531303)
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Barat Daya Province, Sorong City
total number of victims: one
period of incident: 03.01.2023-15.06.2023
perpetrator: police, judiciary
perpetrator details: unknown
Issues: freedom of expression, human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, criminalisation
Further HRM News:,

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolation
1Leonardo Ijie, lawyermaleunknownactivistcriminalisation