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Rights groups slam continued use of force, impunity in Papua

Jakarta Globe - July 17, 2013

Indonesian and international human rights groups have called questioned Jakarta's commitment to finding a peaceful resolution to the decades-long insurgency in Papua, following a discussion on the issue at the United Nations.

In a joint statement released on Monday, the groups noted that the review by the UN Human Rights Committee from July 10-11 of Indonesia's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights had highlighted the ongoing violence in Papua and excessive use of force by government security forces.

"Since there is no effective mechanism available to hold military members accountable, the committee sees re-occurrences of such violations as likely until Indonesia takes measures to develop effective complaint procedures," the statement said.

"The committee referred to the high number of extrajudicial killings that have occurred in Papua over the last two years and deplored the use of violence in dispersing peaceful protests in Papua."

The statement was issued by Franciscans International, Human Rights and Peace for Papua, Imparsial, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and Tapol, among others.

"The discussion about Papua at the UN Human Rights Committee shows that ongoing human rights violations in Papua continue to be a key concern for the international community," said Poengky Indarti from Imparsial.

The groups also denounced what they called the Indonesian delegation's false claims about the openness of military tribunals for those involved in rights abuses.

The statement described Indria Fernida from London-based Tapol as being shocked to notice the "level of denial of institutional shortcomings that prolong the culture of impunity in Indonesia."

"Victims are disappointed about the failure of Human Rights Courts in Papua and badly need an effective complaint mechanism for violations perpetrated by the military," she said.

The rights groups also said that while the Indonesian delegation claimed to the committee that local media in Papua were free to publish any news, "cases of intimidation, threats and violence against local journalists in Papua continue."

"In recent years, the international community had to witness the extrajudicial killing of journalist Ardiansyah Matrais and the violent attack against journalist Banjir Ambarita," the statement said.

Banjir is a contributor for the Jakarta Globe, who was stabbed by unknown perpetrators in March 2011 shortly after reporting on the sexual abuse of a female detainee by local police. No one has ever been arrested over the stabbing.

Concerns were also raised about the delegation's insistence that expressions of Papuan secession would continue to warrant criminal charges, which Budi Tjahjono from Franciscans International warned "implies a prolongation of the detrimental security approach in Papua."

The UN committee is expected to publish its concluding observations and recommendations by the end of this month.