Human Rights in West Papua in 2022 – no improvement but further deterioration

Human rights situation

Two major developments with a significant effect on the human rights situation in West Papua throughout 2022 were, firstly, Jakarta’s plans to amend the Papuan special autonomy law and establish new provinces in West Papua. This has caused widespread rejection among indigenous Papuans. In July 2021, the central government unilaterally amended the Papuan Special Autonomy (Otsus) Law without the participation of the Papuan Peoples Assembly (MRP) and the provincial government.[1] The unilateral adoption of laws for forming new provinces followed in April 2022. Jakarta’s political actions add to the long-lasting history of political disappointments, racism, and human rights violations. More and more, the people in West Papua feel powerless to exercise their right to determine their future.

Jakarta’s actions caused a solid civil society response across West Papua, mainly through peaceful demonstrations and public speech platforms (Indonesian: Mimbar bebas). The police dispersed numerous protests with force and arbitrarily arrested protesters. This has caused the number of violations of the freedom of peaceful assembly and association, the freedom of expression and opinion, arbitrary arrests, and cases of torture to rise, particularly during the first half of 2022. Commonly, the police use vague criminal charges, such as Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP), on treason to criminalise activists advocating the right to self-determination through peaceful means.

Secondly, the ongoing armed conflict in West Papua causes a climate of persistent violence, particularly in the conflict areas. Papuan human rights defenders kept reporting cases of torture, extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances – many of such cases are directly related to armed conflict. The enduring practice of impunity among members of the police and military aggravates this pattern of violations. Cases of extra-judicial killings and torture are rarely processed. Public awareness and media awareness appear to influence holding perpetrators of the police and military accountable positively. However, perpetrators are usually charged through internal mechanisms of their institutions, which lack transparency and independence.

[1] The text of the law is available at

ViolationQ1 2022Q2 2022Q3 2022Q4 2022
freedom of expression182 and dozens more victims in 8 cases101 and hundreds more victims in 7 cases15 and dozens more victims in 4 cases69 and dozens more victims in 6 cases
freedom of assembly250 and dozens more victims in 7 cases114 and hundreds more victims in 8 cases13 and dozens more victims in 4 cases52 and dozens more victims in 6 cases
intimidation1 victim in 1 case1 victim in 1 case1 victim in 1 case1 victim in 1 case
torture44 and more victims in 10 cases62 victims in 6 cases7 victims in 2 cases5 victims in 3 cases
ill-treatment32 victims in 8 cases14 victims in 4 cases24 victims in 4 cases
execution4 victims in 3 cases4 victims in 4 cases7 victims in 4 cases1 victim in 1 case
arbitrary detention251 victims in 13 cases41 victims in 6 cases24 victims in 4 cases73 victims in 8 cases
food17 and more victims in 1 case
right to social securityhundreds of victims in 1 case
right to information1 and dozens more victims in 1 case
cultural rights
dozens of victims in 1 case  
hundreds of victims in 1 case18 and dozens more victims in 2 cases
labour rightshundreds of victims in 1 case
total707 and more victims in 14 cases355 and more victims in 19 cases81 and more victims in 14 cases261 and more victims in 17 cases
Human rights statistics in West Papua between January and mid December 2022, further updates possible (source: HRM)

Armed conflict and internal displacement

Armed violence statistics and a series of recent attacks indicate that the conflict in West Papua has reached a new level of escalation throughout 2022. In early 2022, the Indonesian Government changed its policies on the conflict to a more gentle approach, involving the military and police in development programs. The military and police shall be engaged in providing healthcare and education services as well as agricultural programs. The West Papua-wide operation was named “Operasi Damai Cartenz”, or the “Cartenz Peace Operation” in English. The central government hopes that security forces regain the trust of indigenous Papuans by developing friendly ties with local indigenous communities. At the same time, the government is determined to increase the security force presence and push economic growth in West Papua.

Armed violence in West Papua20182019202020212022
Number of armed attacks4433649270
Number of casualties among security forces818111817
Number of injured security forces1512103422
Number of casualties among TPN-PB fighters121414248
Number of injured TPN-PB fighters40180
Total number of fatalities among civilians during armed clashes or raids4220272843
Number of civilians killed by security force members171320125
Number of civilians killed by TPN-PB fighters25771438
Number of civilians killed (perpetrators unclear)00020
Total number of injured civilians159262021
Number of civilians injured by security force members791072
Number of civilians injured by TPN-PB fighters8016139
Armed conflict statistics in West Papua between 2017 and 20.12.2022 (Source: HRM)

The deployment of security forces, even under the new security approach, is predicted to bring a new level of tension into the conflict. Not only does it increase the potential for armed clashes near civilian settlements, but it will also inevitably limit access to healthcare and education services for many indigenous Papuans. Many indigenous Papuans are afraid of the Indonesian military and the police, responsible for atrocities and human rights violations since the Indonesian takeover of West Papua in 1969.

Throughout 2022, there were no signs of a rapprochement between the Indonesian Government and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB). The TPNPB has repeatedly declared its openness to talks with Jakarta under mediation by a neutral party. However, Jakarta is not supporting peace talks in this format, neither with the TPNPB nor with the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).

The pattern of cases shows that the conflict has gained in violence. Both Indonesian security force members, as well as the TPNPB, repeatedly launched attacks at civilians. While TPNPB fighters burnt down public facilities and attacked migrants whom they alleged of working undercover for the military, security forces often directed air and ground raids at indigenous settlements. In contrast to the previous years, the armed conflict has reached the Papua Barat Province, with armed attacks reported from the regencies Maybrat and Teluk Bintuni.

While the number of attacks between 1 January and 30 November 2022 does not indicate a substantial increase in armed clashes compared to the previous year, the aggravation of the conflict is reflected in the number of killed civilians. In 2020 and 2021, the number of fatalities among civilians during armed clashes or raids was 27 and 28 civilians, respectively. By the end of November 2022, the number of killed civilians had already reached 39, and only five were killed by security force members – a relatively small number compared to the 34 civilians killed by the TPNPB (see table below). In 2021, TPNPB fighters reportedly killed 14 civilians, while security force members were responsible for the deaths of 12 civilians.

The lack of common ground for a peace dialogue has fuelled the conflict. The TPNPB is highly determined to fight for political independence and prevent the expansion of security force structures in West Papua. The increasing number of violent attacks against civilians indicates that TPNPB attacks have reached a new level of violence. The organisation has repeatedly published warnings, calling non-Papuans to leave the conflict areas because they will no longer guarantee their safety.

NoRegencyIDPsdisplaced sinceAdditional info
1Nduga46,000[1]02 Dec 18more than 615 IDPs reportedly died since being displaced
2Puncak2,724[2]27 April 21at least 16 IDPs have reportedly died during displacement
3Intan Jaya5,859[3]26 Oct 21at least 126 IDPs face health issues, and 11 IDPs reportedly died
4Maybrat1,836[4]02 Sept 21IDPs originated from 5 districts, 40 IDPs reportedly died, the local Govt reportedly facilitated the return of 353 IDPs from nine villages in November 2022[5]
5Pegunungan Bintang (Kiwirok)2,252[6]10 Oct 21about 200 IDPs fled to PNG, 50 IDPs reportedly died, at least 39 IDPs suffered from sickness
6Yahukimo (Suru-Suru)1,971[7]20 Nov 21IDPs from 13 villages sought shelter in 15 temporary camps, 16 women gave birth without medical attention, and 13 IDPs reportedly died
 T O T A L60,642  
Reported displacements related to armed conflict in West Papua as of November 2022 (source: HRM)

[1] JPIC Kingmi Papua (22.11.2021): Laporan  Pelanggaran Ham dan Operasi MIliter di Tanah Papua 

[2] Jubi (9.11.2021): SORAKPATOK: 300 tewas dan 50 ribu warga Papua mengungsi, available at:

[3] CNN Indonesia (30.10.2021): Ribuan Warga Papua Mengungsi Usai Pecah Kontak Senjata, available at:

[4] The number was compiled by local church workers and represents the number of IDPs as of early December 2022.

[5] Jubi (12.11.2022): Pemkab Maybrat pulangkan 353 pengungsi Kisor, available at 

[6] Number was compiled from multiple lists with names of IDPs which local human rights defenders compiled in Pegunugan Bintang in April 2022

[7] Number is based on data compiled by local church workers. The information was received in February 2022

Thousands of indigenous Papuans from the regencies Nduga, Puncak, Intan Jaya, Maybrat, Pegunungan Bintang and Yahukimo have been internally displaced due to security force raids, some of them since December 2018. The Indonesian Government continues to ignore the presence of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in West Papua. Data compiled by solidarity groups, churches and independent media suggest a total of 60.642 IDPs (see table above).

There are no humanitarian programs or strategies to guarantee minimum standards concerning the availability, accessibility and quality of education and healthcare services for IDPs. Accordingly, the death toll among IDPs keeps increasing, particularly among infants, children, elderly persons, and pregnant women. Government institutions have failed to collect data on the number and position of IDPs available.

Some IDPs have received occasional support, mainly provided by local governments. Most of them have been untouched by government aid. Hence, many IDPs live without access to education and healthcare in forest shelters under bad hygienic conditions. IDPs from Maybrat testified that the local government distributed rice and other food supplies to the IDPs. However, the funds used for the aid were deducted from the funds the village administration receives regularly.

Indonesia’s report at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN

On 9 November 2022, Indonesia passed the periodic monitoring of the promotion of human rights at the UPR session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. In this 4th UPR round session, the Indonesian government reported on its achievements in fulfilling human rights, including passing the Omnibus Law on the Job Creation Law, the Sexual Violence Crime Act (TP-KS), infrastructure development and increasing the budget for autonomy. areas in Papua, as well as the successful handling of COVID-19. Indonesia’s report has been generally criticised. The Civil Society Coalition for UPR Reporting considers that what is delivered by the Indonesian government does not reflect the real situation in the country.

Human rights court trial on the 2014 Paniai case

On 3 December 2021, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) gave the official order to form a team of 22 prosecutors under the lead of the Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes to investigate allegations of gross human rights violations in the Paniai Regency.  On 1 April 2022, the OAG only identified one suspect, which contradicted the findings of the investigation carried out by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) and the victims’ testimonies. The human rights court trial against the single defendant, the former military commander Major Isak Sattu, was launched at the Makassar District Court on 21 September 2022. After a long and controversial trial, the defendant was found not guilty. In this ruling of 8 December 2022, there were disagreements between two of the five judges who heard the case. The two judges with different opinions saw the responsibility of the command, or it could be proved that there was responsibility by the defendants for the incident. The ruling considered the killings committed by military members against civilians in Paniai to be systematic attacks, thus including crimes against humanity; therefore, this case is still open, and further investigations should take place.


  1. Calling for access to independent observers, foremostly the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, remains a priority to reduce violence and promote accountability in West Papua.
  2. Engage in dialogue with the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) to peacefully resolve the political and historical conflict.
  3. Allow humanitarian access for the International Commission of the Red Cross (ICRC) to West Papua.
  4. Withdraw all non-organic police and military forces deployed in West Papua and facilitate and guarantee the safe and voluntary return of the IDPs to their villages.
  5. Reopen the investigation into the Paniai case so that all perpetrators are investigated efficiently, systematically, and impartially.