Statements on Papua Delivered before Human Rights Council

The following two statements on the situation of human rights defenders and freedom of expression in Papua which were delivered on 15 and 16 September 2014 during the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Mr President,

Papuan human rights defenders are often confronted by intimidation from Indonesian authorities. Franciscans International and a coalition of 18 international and national organisations would like to call the Council's attention to the case of intimidation of Papuan human rights lawyer, Mr Gustaf Kawer. Mr Kawer is an independent lawyer from Papua who has been involved in numerous human rights litigations.

He was summoned by the Papua regional police as a witness on August 22, 2014. Even though the authorities communicated that the case is related to coercion and rebelliousness (article 211 and 212 of the Indonesian Penal Code), no further information was provided. It was not until later that Mr Kawer learned that the case was against himself and a second summons shed light on the reasons; Mr Kawer, representing a client in an indigenous land dispute, protested against the judges of the Administrative Court (Pengadilan Tata Usaha Negara) of Jayapura who dismissed his request for an adjournment and held the hearing with neither Mr. Kawer nor his client. Since requests from the National Land Agency (Badan Pertanahan Nasional) had allegedly been accepted before, this decision seems to be partial.

Articles 211 and 212 of the Indonesian Penal Code concern resistance against public officials through the use of violence or the threat of violence. As no violence has been committed nor threats posed by Mr Kawer the use of these two articles is therefore arbitrary. The Indonesian Law on Advocates No 18/2003 article 16 stipulates that a legal advocate shall not be subject to criminal or civil charge in relation to the performance in good faith of his or her professional duties in defending a client in court. It stands to reason that the two summons amount to intimidation of Mr Kawer to dissuade him and other human rights defenders in carrying out their professional duties.

The United Nations has repeatedly affirmed the importance of States in protecting lawyers and human rights defenders, as stipulated in the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Therefore, our coalition recommends the Government of Indonesia should immediately:
1. End the legal intimidation against human rights lawyer Mr Gustaf Kawer.
2. End the criminalization of human rights lawyers and human rights defenders.
3. Ensure the safety of Papuan human rights lawyers and defenders in doing their work in accordance with the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Thank you.

Supported by:

1. Franciscans International
2. VIVAT International
3. IMPARSIAL
4. JPIC OFM Indonesia
5. JPIC MSC Indonesia
6. JPIC SVD Indonesia
7. JPIC Franciscans Papua
8. Bersatu Untuk Kebenaran (BUK)- Papua
9. International Coalition for Papua (ICP)
10. West Papua Netzwerk (WPN), Germany
11. JPIC Kalimantan
12. Dayak Voices
13. Yayasan Pusaka, Jakarta
14. SKP Keuskupan Agung Merauke, Papua
15. JPIC Desk of Evangelical Christian Church in the Land of Papua
16. The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), Papua Chapter
17. Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
18. TAPOL
19. Sawit Watch, Indonesia
20. Aliansi Demokrasi untuk Papua (ALDP)
21. Suara Papua Media

 

Mr President,
Franciscans International and VIVAT International in coalition with 16 international and national organizations would like to draw the Council's attention to the still unresolved issue regarding the freedom of expression in the provinces of Papua and West Papua in Indonesia. In 2013, the Human Rights Committee in its concluding observation requested Indonesia to take the necessary steps to ensure that any restrictions to the freedom of expression fully comply with the strict requirements of (...) the Covenant (on Civil and Political Rights). The request for a visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression has been postponed since last year.
We would like to express our deep concern regarding access to Papua and West Papua, especially for journalists. Local journalists in Papua and West Papua are often under surveillance by security forces observing their journalistic activities. Furthermore, foreign journalists need to apply for a special permit to visit Papua, issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through interdepartmental consultation on the grounds that security for the journalists must be ensured. However, it is not easy to obtain such a permit and, if issued, journalists have often been accompanied by Indonesian government officials. This is problematic because these measures closely resemble censorship.
International journalists without this permit face severe consequences as in the recent case of two French Arte TV journalists exemplify. On August 5, 2014, Mr. Thomas Dandois and Ms. Valentine Bourrat arrived in Wamena, Papua on tourist visas. They intended to gather information on the human rights situation in Papua. In order to learnabout the conflict between the Indonesian security forces and the national Liberation Army of West Papua (TPNPB), they visited an indigenous leader and a school teacher, Mr Areki Wanimbo, at his house. Shortly afterwards they were arrested on 6 August, together with their host and three Papuan human rights defenders.
They were subjected to interrogation for a total of 24 hours, without any legal counsel. This clearly violates the procedural guarantee, an important aspect of the rule of law. Even though the Papuan human rights defenders have been released without charge, a charge has been filed against the journalists on the grounds of misuse of visa permission (Article 122 of Immigration Law which has a maximum imprisonment of five years and maximum fine of IDR 500 million). They are also being investigated for alleged acts of espionage. Mr Areki Wanimbo has been charged with conspiracy to commit treason under articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Penal Code. Currently, the two French journalists and Mr. Wanimbo are still being detained.

We recommend that the Government of Indonesia should:
1. Immediately release Thomas Dandois, Valentine Bourrat and Areki Wanimbo without charge.
2. Eliminate all obstacles to international journalists entering and carrying out journalistic activities in Papua and West Papua, as part of a commitment to end the repression of the freedom of expression.
3. Fulfill the commitment to permit a visit from the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to Papua and West Papua.
Thank you.

Supported by:1. Franciscans International
2. VIVAT International
3. IMPARSIAL
4. JPIC OFM Indonesia
5. JPIC MSC Indonesia
6. JPIC SVD Indonesia
7. JPIC Franciscans Papua
8. Bersatu Untuk Kebenaran (BUK)- Papua
9. International Coalition for Papua (ICP)
10. West Papua Netzwerk (WPN), Germany
11. JPIC Kalimantan
12. Dayak Voices
13. Yayasan Pusaka, Jakarta
14. SKP Keuskupan Agung Merauke, Papua
15. JPIC Desk of Evangelical Christian Church in the Land of Papua
16. The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), Papua Chapter
17. Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
18. TAPOL
19. Sawit Watch, Indonesia
20. Aliansi Demokrasi untuk Papua (ALDP)
21. Suara Papua Media
22. KontraS
23. Serikat Jurnalis untuk Keberagaman (SEJUK)