Rights Group Irked Over Ministry's Lack of Probe

Rights Group Irked Over Ministry’s Lack of Probe

Jakarta Globe
Nivell Rayda

US-based Human Rights Watch expressed outrage on Friday over the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights’ decision not to investigate the alleged torture of prisoners at a state penitentiary in Abepura, Papua.

Last week, the watchdog reported two dozen cases of alleged torture, violence and abuse at the prison, but Untung Sugiono, the director general for penitentiary affairs at the ministry, told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday that they would not be responding to the allegations from the group.

“Untung should go to Abepura and interview the prisoners,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said, adding that he was outraged that the director general had refused to open an investigation based on the warden’s letter alone.

Human Rights Watch reported that the incidents of torture began shortly after Anthonius Ayorbaba, a former official at the Jayapura office of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, became the prison warden in August 2008.

Untung said that the ministry had already checked on the allegations with its office in Papua.

The warden, he said, submitted a complete chronology of what happened and that several witnesses had confirmed the warden’s story.

“He should see for himself how a prisoner lost his right eye after being hit by a set of keys,” Adams said, “how another prisoner got severe burns on his hands after being forced to put them into a pot of boiling water, or how a prisoner partially lost his hearing after being hit in the head by a wrench.”

He added that his group would write to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to ask for an independent fact-finding team to verify the alleged abuses .