Police officers arrest Papuan activist for Facebook post

Papuan political activists continue to face a high risk of criminalisation through law enforcement agencies in Indonesia, and there is no indication of a declining trend. The recent arrest of Philipus Robaha (see intro image, source: Suara Papua), the Vice-Chairman of the West Papua National Student and Youth Solidarity (SONAMAPA), was the latest confirmation of this trend. Police officers arbitrarily arrested Philipus Robaha on 24 August 2020 during a general traffic control in the outskirts of Jayapura City. Thereinafter, police officers detained Philipus at the Jayapura municipality police station and questioned him from 11.00 am until 3.00 pm. They asked him about a critical Facebook post on the evaluation of 19 years of Special Autonomy by the regional leaders’ forum in Sentani, Jayapura regency. The police attempted to press charges against him for alleged violation of the Electronic Information and Transactions Law (ITE Law). The interrogation came to the result that the Facebook post was not uploaded on Philipus Robaha’s personal Facebook account.

The activist received legal support from a human rights lawyer of the ‘Papuan Legal Aid Institute’ (LBH Papua), who understood the arrest as an attempt of criminalisation. According to Philipus’ lawyer, the police failed to mention the name of the plaintiff who had filed a complaint against the social media post. Most of the ITE articles can only be used to initiate a criminal prosecution if a plaintiff has filed a complaint to local authorities because he was harmed. The police detained Philipus Robaha for more than 24 hours without evidence for the involvement in any criminal offense. He was released on 26 August 2020. The lawyer urged the Chief of the Papuan Regional Police (Kapolda Papua) to impose sanctions against police officers misusing laws and legal regulations.