Papua 'torture video' must be independently investigated

Papua 'torture video' must be independently investigated

Amnesty International, 19 October 2010


The Indonesian government should initiate an independent investigation into reports of torture and other ill-treatment in Papua over the last two years, Amnesty International said today.

A video published online last week shows Papuans being kicked and physically abused, in some instances by men in uniform. Amnesty is urging the Indonesian government to appoint the National Human Rights Commission to lead the investigation.

Amnesty said the government should also ensure the security of the members of the commission carrying out the investigation, as well as the security of victims, witnesses and their families. Amnesty also called on the Indonesian government to publicise findings and make them accessible, whenever relevant, to victims and their families.

Amnesty International Asia-Pacific Deputy Director Donna Guest said: “The release of this video is the latest reminder that torture and other-ill-treatment in Indonesia often go unchecked and unpunished". “We continue to receive regular reports about torture by members of the security forces. However, there are often no independent investigations, and those responsible are rarely brought to account before an independent court".

“The authorities must send a clear public message to all members of the security forces in Indonesia, especially in Papua, that torture and other ill-treatment is strictly prohibited at all times and, if it occurs, full criminal investigations will begin.”

Another recent police video obtained by human rights groups showed Yawan Wayeni, a Papuan political activist, with severe abdominal injuries receiving no assistance from police officials just before his death. Yawan Waveni had reportedly been arrested by members of the Police Mobile Brigade in August 2009 at his house in Yapen Island, Papua.

In December 2009, Amnesty International wrote to the National Head of Police to provide details about a pattern of police abuse in Nabire, Papua. Between December 2008 and April 2009, police officials used unnecessary and excessive force against demonstrators, injuring at least 21 people there. Police also repeatedly beat and otherwise ill-treated at least 17 people during and after arrests between January and April 2009.

Amnesty has also received credible information on two cases of unlawful killings by security forces in Papua during April and June 2009. To date, Amnesty International has still not received a written response to this letter, and is unaware of any independent and impartial investigation into these reports.

As a state party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), Indonesia is legally bound to prohibit torture and other ill-treatment in all circumstances. The National Constitution and the 1999 Human Rights Act also prohibit torture. However, Indonesia’s Criminal Code has yet to incorporate a definition of torture that is in line with the UNCAT, and with clear sanctions.

Amnesty International recognises that there is a low-level insurgency in Papua and the obligation, and responsibility, of the Indonesian government to protect its citizens. However there is an absolute prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment under international law.