19 Jan 2004

Indonesian military pledges not to interfere with human rights probe in Papua

11:17 am on 19 January 2004

Indonesia's military has promised not to intimidate witnesses giving evidence before a probe into alleged human rights abuses by Indonesian troops and police against civilians in Papua.

But according to the news agency AAP, the military has warned that it will take legal action against the National Commission on Human Rights if no evidence of its claims is uncovered.

A 15-member team from the Commission arrived in Papua last week to begin an investigation into allegations of gross human rights violations, including killings and torture, in the province.

The human rights watchdog, which is state-funded but operates independently, announced the probe in November last year after an initial report found evidence of extra-judicial killings and abuses over the last few years.

The team says it will call 75 witnesses to give evidence into two incidents.

It will look into accusations that the army killed seven people and tortured another 48 in the town of Wamena between April and June last year.

And it will look into the killing of three people and the alleged torture of 16 more by paramilitary police in Wasior.