Human rights observers disappointed over investigation into 2014 Paniai Case – Investigator identifies single suspect only

The chief investigator of the Directorate of Serious Human Rights Violations of the Attorney General’s Office in Indonesia, has published the outcomes of the investigation into the 2014 Paniai Case. According to the spokesperson of the Attorney General’s Office, a military member with the initials IS has been identified as a suspect and will stand trial before a human rights court. The press release dating 1 April 2022 did not contain elaborated information regarding the rank and position of the accused suspect. Human rights observers and relatives expressed disappointment over the results of the investigation.

IS has been charged with Article 42 (1) in conjunction with Article 9a in conjunction with Article 7b and Article 40 in conjunction with Article 9h in conjunction with Article 7 b of the Indonesian Law No 26/2000 on the Human Rights Courts. The articles carry a minimum punishment of ten years and a maximum of twenty years imprisonment if the court process proves the defendant’s engagement in a crime against humanity.

Human rights observers reacted disappointed that only a single suspect had been charged. They called upon the Attorney General to continue the investigation until all suspects within the local military structure up to the XVII/Cendrawasih military command had been identified. They urged the investigators to be more transparent and include the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) in the investigation. Komnas HAM had already investigated the case years ago.

In particular, the outcome of the investigation is a slap to the face of relatives and victims, who have already lost their trust in the Indonesian judicial system. Many believe that the Indonesian Government is trying to protect the majority of perpetrators from prosecution instead of taking a serious commitment to fight the wide-spread impunity in West Papua.    

Background

The human rights case occurred in the Paniai Regency on 8 December 2014. Joint security force members opened fire at a group of Papuan protesters, resulting in the death of four minors and leaving 21 protesters injured. One of the victims, Mr Yulius Yeimo, passed away on 1 April 2018 due to multiple health problems which he sustained after being tortured by members of the military in relation to the incident.

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, Papua Province. The investigators examined as many as 50 persons consisting of seven civilians, eighteen police officers and 25 military personnel.

Apart from the 2014 Paniai Case, the Attorney General also instructed the team to accelerate the processing of other allegations of gross human rights violations in Indonesia. Ali Mukartono, the lead of Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes, explained that his team will also follow-up on the Indonesian mass killings of 1965-66, the Petrus killing (1982-85 Mysterious Shooting), the 1989 Talangsari case in Lampung, the tragedy at the Aceh Geudong House 1990-99, 1997-98 activist kidnappings, the Trisakti shootings, Semanggi shootings, the May 1998 riots, and the 1999 Simpang KKA case.

Since 2002, the twelve cases files have been passed back and forth between Komnas HAM and the attorney General’s office without making any progress in the prosecution of the perpetrators.