Human Rights Update West Papua - 2nd Quarter 2018

The second quarter of 2018 was characterized by a slight increase in the number of reported extra-judicial killings. Throughout the past quarters, this number varied between one and three cases. Local human rights defenders have now reported five such cases between April and June 2018. During this reporting period, there is a significantly high percentage of extra-judicial killings and torture cases which were related to the unnecessary and excessive use of firearms by the police and the military. This pattern indicates that security forces often fail to settle conflicts in a non-violent professional manner. Contrary to previous quarters, no cases of epidemic outbreaks or other health rights violations have been reported.

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The figures for reported political arrests in 2018 appear to be considerably low in comparison to the years 2016 and 2017. One reason for this decline is the shrinking space for the freedom of assembly and freedom of expression in West Papua. In the past, police responded with mass arrests to large scale demonstrations which often took place simultaneously in multiple cities of Indonesia. The police changed its strategy after NGOs had brought the international community’s attention to the high number of arrests. Since 2017, the police has increased efforts to prosecute leaders of peaceful political pro-independence groups, such as the West Papua National Committee KNPB. At the same time political activity by indigenous Papuans is closely monitored in all parts of Indonesia. Peaceful political demonstrations are often intercepted or blocked before they take place. The constant number of cases in which local journalists or human rights defenders were intimidated or obstructed, is a strong indicator of the repressive working conditions which still can be found in all parts of West Papua.

Read what UN mechanisms observe and recommend regarding human rights in West Papua on our website.