Nur Janti, Jakarta – The Attorney General's Office has appointed a team of 34 attorneys as public prosecutors to draft an indictment in human rights violations that occurred in Paniai, Papua.
"The public prosecutor will immediately draw up an indictment and hand over the case to the Human Rights Court at the Makassar District Court," AGO spokesperson Ketut Sumedana said in a statement as quoted by Kompas. Last month, the AGO named an Indonesian Military (TNI) retiree – identified only by the initials IS – who was a liaison officer for the Paniai Military Command (Kodim), as a suspect in the Paniai case.
The incident, also referred to as Bloody Paniai, occurred when security forces opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators during a protest in Paniai regency on Dec. 8, 2014. Five people, including four high school students, were killed during the incident, and 21 other civilians were injured. The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has said that the incident constituted a "gross human rights violation."
In a preliminary investigation, the commission found that TNI soldiers had committed "gross human rights violations" by killing and persecuting civilians. The report was handed over to the AGO in February 2020.
In the same year AGO returned the report twice to Komnas HAM, on March 19 and May 20, for "not meeting the formal and material requirements", hindering the case handling.
Komnas HAM believes that the resolution of gross human rights violation cases depends on the government's commitment, observing that the sluggish handling ended after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo ordered his administration to work on the Paniai case.
In his speech to commemorate International Human Rights Day last year, Jokowi said the government was committed to resolving cases of gross human rights violations, including the Paniai case, and bringing any perpetrators to justice.
"The resolution of cases depends on the government's political will to provide justice to victims of gross human rights violations," Komnas HAM chairman Ahmad Taufan Damanik told a press conference on Monday. Taufan said after the AGO returned the Paniai dossier, Komnas HAM persuaded the government to speed up the resolution of the Paniai case.
The commission repeatedly held meetings with the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD, State Secretary Pratikno and Attorney General ST Burhanuddin. They also have written twice to Jokowi providing options for resolving past human rights abuses. Komnas HAM hopes that the Supreme Court will appoint judges who are capable of resolving human rights issues.
Commissioner Sandrayati Moniaga expected that the appointed judge for the Paniai case trial would maintain their independence. "The recruited judges should have a passion for resolving cases of human rights abuse so they can dig deeper into this matter [...] So far, only one suspect has been named. Now this is the challenge," Sandrayanti said. Taufan also hopes that the trial will bring justice to the victims and punish the perpetrators.
So far, only three cases of gross human rights violations have been tried in the country, namely the cases of East Timor, Abepura and Tanjung Priok.
But none of the perpetrators were punished. "Many justices have not been served, many perpetrators have not been punished. Impunity has become a portrait of our lawlessness," he said.