24 Dec 2012

Fears after Indonesian police reveal plans to apply anti-terrorism law in Papua

2:39 pm on 24 December 2012

Concerns are growing over human rights abuses in the Indonesian region of Papua after the National Police decided to use the country's antiterrorism law to deal with armed groups there.

Last week the National Police Criminal Investigation Division chief, General Sutarman said the police would use the Antiterrorism Law No.15 to deal with individuals or groups terrorising people in Papua, including those attacking police stations.

The Jakarta Post reports him saying armed individuals and groups have brought anxiety and terror into society and that police would not hesitate to use the law on those who kill innocent civilians.

The paper reports him saying the decision has nothing to do with the burgeoning separatist movement in Papua.

But human rights defenders say the police are only seeking justification for their abuse of suspects.

A Catholic priest John Jonga told the Jakarta Post use of the Antiterrorism Law would send misleading messages to both Papuans and others with interests in the province.

He says Papuans are not terrorists.

A spokesperson for the human rights watchdog Imparsial suggests the plan could heighten the already tense atmosphere in Papua.