Sunday, November 13, 2016

Old problems hinder Papua taskforce

Old problems hinder Papua taskforce
Jayapura | Mon, November 14 2016 | 07:47 am

The taskforce on human rights in Papua has made slow progress in resolving alleged abuses in Papua and West Papua provinces, largely as a result of the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), which has persistently disagreed with the approach of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).

The taskforce was initially set up by then coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister Luhut Pandjaitan on Oct. 25, 2015, with a one-year mandate.

It was hoped the taskforce could help ease the problems that had bedevilled many human rights cases in the country’s easternmost region.

However, by the time its initial term ended last month, the taskforce had failed to secure any form of law enforcement against the perpetrators of human rights cases they examined, prompting the minister’s office to extend its mandate by another year.

“We will conduct public hearings on the cases so members of the public, as well as activists and legal experts, can see openly the problems [that have hampered our work],” human rights activist and taskforce leader Mathius Murib said over the weekend.

He added that the taskforce would also soon hold meetings with witnesses and victims’ families in three cases.

The team has been tasked with overseeing 11 cases of alleged human rights violations but the three cases Mathius was referring to were the Wasior tragedy in 2001, the killings in Wamena (2003 and the bloody conflict in Paniai ( 2014 ).

A number of civilians from dozens of villages were allegedly killed and tortured in Wasior during a joint police and military operation following a break-in at a military arsenal.

None of the perpetrators in the three cases have been brought to justice.

Komnas HAM has also declared the Wasior and Wamena cases to be gross human rights violations and submitted its findings to the AGO, but the latter has refused to bring the cases to court, citing a lack of evidence.

Mathius said he hoped an open and transparent case hearing could help resolve the problems centering on the different approaches used by the AGO and Komnas HAM.

“While Komnas HAM uses the Human Rights Law, the AGO approaches the cases from the Criminal Code, so they will never be of the same opinion. How can human rights issues be handled using the Criminal Code, which was designed to address regular crimes?” Mathius, who formerly served as the deputy chairman of Komnas HAM’s Papua office, said in Papua’s provincial capital of Jayapura.

Despite lingering concerns about the matter, such a difference of approach has remained an obstacle in resolving human rights cases for years. As a result, many suspected perpetrators have enjoyed impunity, to the dismay of victims and activists.

Regarding the deadly incident in Paniai, which saw six students killed, Komnas HAM’s Papua representative Friets Ramandey said the commission’s examination had been constrained by people’s resistance to investigative teams that came to Paniai after the tragedy.

Papua human rights observer John Jonga, recipient of the 2009 Yap Thiam Hien Award, lamented the taskforce’s poor progress, pointing out that the cases had been discussed at the international level, including at the UN.

“None of the perpetrators have been brought to account and legally processed, thanks to the weakness of law enforcement agencies, including Komnas HAM itself,” he said.

Other cases overseen by the taskforce include the 1996 military operation on the Mapenduma abduction, the 1998 Bloody Biak incident that claimed more than 100 lives, the shooting of Mako Tabuni, the torture of Yawan Wayeni in Serui and the conflict during the Third Papua People’s Congress.

Regarding the alleged torture of Yawan, Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Paulus Waterpauw said the police had grilled 157 Mobile Brigade (Brimob) members. “The reenactment of the case has been conducted and we will soon hold a case expose,” he said.

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