Komnas HAM’s Papua probe just a formality, council says

Komnas HAM’s Papua probe just a formality, council says
The Jakarta Post, 10 January 2011

By: Dicky Christanto and Ina Parlina,


The Papua Customary Council (PCC) blasted the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) probe into a string of cases of torture in the restive province, calling it a mere “bluff and formality”. Council member Markus Haluk said Sunday the Komnas HAM investigation failed to provide solutions for ending recurrent cases of human rights abuse in Papua.

The commission last Tuesday announced the results of their investigation into three recently revealed cases of torture by members of the military perpetrated against native Papuans.

The rights body recommended the government review its security approach in the province, but ruled out calls for the establishment of right tribunal to prosecute the culprits because the crimes could not be categorized as “gross violations”.

“No one will bow to non-binding recommendations,” Markus said, adding that whether “serious” or “gross” violations of human rights, the commission should be able to ensure that the perpetrators would not go unpunished.

“I say bringing them before a military tribunal won’t solve the problem and won’t stop similar incidents from happening again,” he said.

A military tribunal is widely perceived as a tool to whitewash rights offenders by only charging them with disobedience. “In cases of human rights violations, the culprits should be brought to a real hearing, a human rights tribunal, to process their mistakes against civilians,” Markus said.

Rights activists in Jakarta also questioned the commission’s investigation result.

“The report only mentions that there were serious human rights violations that have taken place in the Puncak Jaya district in Papua, but it fails to provide concrete recommendations regarding these violations,” rights watchdog Imparsial executive director Poengky Indarti said over the weekend.

Imparsial advocate Al Araf said that the least the commission could do was to order the military to bring the cases to a civil court.

“The Military Criminal Code doesn’t recognize torture as crime that requires severe punishment. That is why the military court process is unable to provide a deterrent effect to perpetrators,” he said, referring to a recent torture trial in which the defendants were sentenced to only a few months in prison.

In many violations that have been reported in Papua, including those that became the grounds for the latest Komnas HAM inquiry, the military has often stated that their actions were unavoidable because they faced the dangers of a separatist movement in the area.

Imparsial recorded that between 1998 and 2007 there were 242 violations committed by Indonesian soldiers in various locations in Papua and West Papua.