Police told to act on Papua shootings

Police told to act on Papua shootings
, 7 August 2010

The Papua Police were urged Friday to take serious action to solve several fatal shootings, with the latest incident took place in Puncak Jaya regency on Wednesday and killed a civilian.

The call was made by Mathius Murib, a Papuan native member of the National Human Rights Commission and Ruben Magai, a member of the Papua Legislative Council.

They were responding to the fatal shooting of a civilian man at his kiosk in Wuyuneri village in Mulia district in Puncak Jaya regency. The police alleged a group of armed civilians had carried out the crime.

"Since 2004, no one has been arrested or legally processed for shootings in Puncak Jaya," Mathius said in Jayapura, the province's capital, on Friday.

"Every time an incident occurs, the police immediately claim an armed civilian group is responsible. The strange thing is, no legal action is taken after that."

He said such incidents in Puncak Jaya could lead to a situation in which government officials and residents could not live together peacefully.

"Even the Puncak Jaya regent admitted that he didn't feel safe or secure in the regency. And he is a regent who has security personnel protecting him. If he doesn't feel safe, what about the regular residents," Murib said.

Papua's Human Rights Commission, he said, had received information that back in 2004, the average armed civilian group typically possessed about five firearms, but that today that number had gone up to 30 firearms and a much larger quantity of ammunition.

"There's a need to question where those groups are getting their firearms and ammunition," Murib said, without revealing the source of his information.

He said many security personnel had been deployed to Puncak Jaya regency but added that shootings continued to occur there.

"The Human Rights Commission has repeatedly asked the Papua Police, including in writing, to solve these ongoing incidents. But still, no perpetrator has been arrested or legally processed, creating an impression that *the police* are not serious about handling the cases," he said.

Head of the Papua Legislative Council commission in charge of political affairs, Ruben Magai, raised a similar concern.

He urged the police to act professionally in investigating shootings.

"Every time there's a shooting, a group is accused but no one is arrested," Ruben said, adding that the presence of security personnel had not decreased the frequency of such incidents.

"An unsafe environment makes people suffer. It means there's no security guarantee for them and it might also slow down development since most of the development funds go to the security budget," Ruben said.

So far this year, four people have been killed in a series of violent incidents in Papua.

The last deadly attack occurred on June 16 when a group of unidentified gunmen killed policeman First Brig. Agus Suhendra during a police stakeout in a forest near Yambi village in Puncak Jaya regency.

The officer was shot in an ambush while searching for perpetrators of a shooting in April in which three people were killed.