6 Dec 2017

Indonesia urged to probe allegations around death in Merauke

3:34 pm on 6 December 2017

Amnesty International has urged Indonesia to investigate allegations of torture leading to the death of a man in Papua province's Merauke district.

Indonesian police at a demonstration in the Papuan region.

Indonesian police in the Papuan region. Photo: Supplied/ Whens Tebay

Last month the man, Ishak Yaguar, was reported by his family to have been dragged out of their home in Kimaam district by soldiers, beaten and taken to a military post.

It followed his involvement in a protest the previous day over alleged misuse of funds earmarked for development projects in the district.

A village leader had complained to the military about the protestors being drunk.

Later, Ishak was transferred to police custody, but his family were prevented from seeing him - within a day they learnt that he had died.

At a public ceremony later that month, a local military commander displayed an agreement signed by someone claiming to be a representative of Ishak's family.

The document specified that the family and the local military forces would settle the case through a non-judicial process.

During the ceremony, the local military commander gave Ishak's father around $US3,700.

Amnesty said providing compensation to the victim's family could not substitute for the state's obligation to ensure justice in the case.

It said Indonesian authorities must "immediately conduct an independent, impartial and effective investigation into allegations of torture leading to the death".

Amnesty said the incident was "the latest reminder that the use of torture and other ill-treatment by law enforcement officials in Papua remains prevalent".

The NGO's Indonesia chapter believes that the Kimaam case was "not an isolated incident but reflects that the torture or other ill-treatment is still commonly used by the security forces in the Papua region" with impunity.

This included unlawful killings, the use of unnecessary and excessive force, and torture and other ill-treatment.

Amnesty said previous investigations into human rights violations committed by security forces in Papua and West Papua provinces had been unduly delayed, dropped.

In some cases, findings were suppressed, encouraging perpetrators to commit more human rights violations and leaving victims and their families without access to truth, justice and reparations.

In almost all known cases of human rights violations, members of the police and military forces in Papua and West Papua provinces have not faced criminal proceedings and have received only disciplinary sanctions when found to have committed human rights violations.