Jakarta (DPA) – Indonesia on Friday (Feb 22) said action would be taken against officers who used a snake to extract a confession from a suspected thief in the restive province of Papua, after UN experts called for an investigation into the incident.
A group of UN human rights experts said in a statement on Thursday (Feb 21) that the snake incident reflected "a widespread pattern of violence" and other abuses by Indonesian security forces in Papua.
"The police are undertaking an investigation into the incident and have stated that disciplinary action will be taken against the individuals in accordance with the rules," Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said.
"This was the action of individuals and is against the national police's rules and regulations," he added.
The UN experts said the tactics were often used against indigenous Papuans and human rights defenders. "This latest incident is symptomatic of the deeply entrenched discrimination and racism that indigenous Papuans face, including by Indonesian military and police," they said.
A video circulating online earlier this month showed police in Jayawijaya district wrapping a snake around the neck of the suspect as they questioned him.
A policeman could be heard asking the suspect: "How many times have you stolen a cellphone?" The man cowered and screamed in fear.
The local police have apologised for the use of the snake but defended the action as a light-hearted attempt to make the suspected mobile phone thief confess to his crime.
A low-level separatist conflict has been taking place in Papua, a predominantly-Melanesian region, since the 1960s. Security forces have been accused of human rights abuses while conducting counter-insurgency operations.