Impunity: Lack of transparency in legal process against 13 soldiers accused of torturing three Papuans in Puncak

The Papua Human Rights Lawyers Association (PAHAM Papua) has criticised the Indonesian National Army (TNI) for its lack of transparency in handling the legal process involving 13 soldiers accused of torturing three Papuan civilians in Puncak Regency. The incident, which occurred on 3 February 2024, led to the death of one civilian and severe injuries to two others. Despite the naming of suspects on 25 March 2024, the PUSPOM TNI (Military Police Center) has been silent about the progress of the investigation, leaving the victims’ families and the public in the dark about the suspects’ identities and the evidence gathered. The secrecy fuels concerns that justice will not be served and the perpetrators will evade proper punishment.

Gustaf R. Kawer, Director of PAHAM Papua, drew parallels with previous cases where military personnel were not held accountable for their actions, such as the murder of Papuan political leader, Theis Hiyo Eluay. He emphasised that the current legal process, like past cases, appears to be conducted away from public scrutiny and victim families, raising impunity concerns. The secrecy surrounding the handover to the Military Prosecutor and the lack of information about when the case will go to the Military Court further deepen these concerns.

PAHAM Papua called on the President of Indonesia and the Military Chief-Commander to demonstrate their commitment to human rights by resolving these cases promptly. Moreover, the organisation demanded an extension of the mandate for the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) to investigate and reveal legal investigations into cases of serious human rights violations, a demand that the Indonesian human rights community has voiced for a decade.   

The ongoing lack of transparency and accountability in military court processes remains a crucial issue in Indonesia’s law enforcement system, especially concerning military operations in Papua.


Historical precedents show that perpetrators often receive lenient sentences and return to their positions within the TNI, highlighting systemic issues in achieving justice for victims of military violence. The sentences concerning the enforced disappearances of Mr Luther and Mr Apinus Zanambani, as well as the murder of Rev Yeremia Zanambani in the Intan Jaya Regency in 2020, illustrate that the military court verdicts failed to bring justice for the victims.

The court convicted and sentenced ten military members, seven of whom were processed by the Military Oditur  III-16 Makassar. Mufajirin Adi Yatma (eight months imprisonment), Baharuddin (six months imprisonment with eight months probation), Febi Puji Hantara (eight months imprisonment), Pance Gereuw (six months imprisonment), and Oktapianus Sangga Kalatiku (eight months imprisonment) were all found guilty of jointly committing ill-treatment resulting in death. The military members Mr Pance Gereuw, Mr Oktapianus Sangga Kalatiku, Mr Muhammad Syamsir, and Mr Josua Manghut Tua, were tried for the crime of concealing the killings and sentenced to six months imprisonment and nine months probation, respectively.

Meanwhile, the military members responsible for the torture and execution of Rev Yeremia Zanambani were tried at the Military Court III-19 Jayapura with case number 186-K/PM.III-19/AD/VI/2022. The defendants Mr Saiful Anwar, Mr Alex Ading, and Mr Mohammad Andi Hasan Basri were found guilty of collective murder and sentenced to one year imprisonment each.

Human rights defenders expressed concerns that not all defendants have been held accountable. Relatives continue to wait for updates in the law enforcement process of one military commander.