On 31 August 2022, the Indonesian Constitutional Court rejected the application for judicial review of Law No 2/2021 concerning the Second Amendment to Law No 21/2001 concerning Special Autonomy for the Province of Papua (Otsus II Law). In its decision, the panel of judges (see photo on top, source: Suara Papua) represented the view that the application did not sufficiently explain the loss of constitutional rights as a result of the new Otsus II Law. Moreover, the Court assessed that the MRPs did not have the legal standing to file the judicial review.
According to the judges, the application failed to elaborate on the actual or potential loss of constitutional rights through a cause-and-effect relationship as well as the causal relationship between the alleged loss of the applicant’s constitutional rights and the enactment of the Otsus II Law. The judges declared that the Otsus II Law does not cause injustice, legal uncertainty, and discrimination against Indigenous Papuans.
The application for the judicial review of the law was submitted by the Papuan Peoples Assemblies (MRPs) of the provinces Papua and Papua Barat in June 2021. The MRPs challenged the legality of seven articles, namely Articles 6(1b, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6), 28(1,2 & 4), 38(2), 59(3), 68(a1), 76(1,2 & 3), and 77 of the law, arguing that the articles would stifle the rights and freedoms of indigenous Papuans as guaranteed under the Indonesian Constitution. Papuan stakeholders particularly expressed concern over the revised Article 76 (2) of the Otsus II Law, which provides the legal foundation for the administrative partition without seeking the agreement of the provincial parliaments and the MRPs.
On 30 June 2022, the Indonesian Parliament passed another controversial law for the formation of new provinces without the previous consultation of the Papuan provincial parliament and the MRP. The law was enacted while the decision of the Constitutional Court was still pending. While Jakarta claims the formation of new provinces serves the purpose of pushing development and increasing prosperity in the neglected provinces of Papua and Papua Barat, Papuan civil society groups, academics and intellectuals remain concerned about the government’s plan. They represent the view that the formation of new provinces will inevitably lead to a growing security force presence, more human rights violations and accelerated exploitation of natural resources. Indigenous Papuans are likely to become more marginalized as a result of the expected developments.
Widespread protests against the formation of new provinces across West Papua were forcefully dispersed and the aspirations of the Papuan people were ignored. Instead, Minister Mahfud MD declared during a meeting on 15 April 2022, that the president’s office had conducted a survey to determine the public opinion about the formation of new provinces. He claimed that 82 per cent of the people in the Papua Province were supporting the Government’s plan.