SSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, fabrication of charges, freedom of expression, right to fair trial, rule of law
|Penangkapan Aktivis KNPB Buctar Tabuni|
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received the information regarding the arbitrary arrest of five Papuan activists in Jayapura, Papua on 12 October 2012. The five activists were arrested on the allegation of involvement in importing or distributing explosive materials. The police did not have any evidence to arrest and detain them and they were later released. The police, however, copied several documents belonging to the activists related to their political movement.
According to the information we obtained from Yasons Sambom himself, he and his friends Denny Hisage, Anike Kogoya, Feliks Bahabol and Linus Bahabol were on their way to Nabire by the Lapobar ship when the police arrested them at around 9.20pm.
They were initially put under the custody of the Sea Harbour Security Execution Unit (KP3 Laut) Jayapura before being moved to the Papua Regional Police Station at around 11-12pm for interrogation. The interrogation of some of the activists started at 1am on the next day and lasted until 4am whereas the remainder were questioned from 2.30am until 6am. It is not until 11 on 13 October 2012 that the five activists were released. None of the activists were given the opportunity to contact any legal counsel to accompany them during the questioning.
The five activists were arrested for allegedly violating Article 187bis of the Penal Code concerning their alleged involvement in importing explosive materials to Indonesia territory. Several weeks before the arrest, two bombs were found at the secretariat of the West Papuan National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB) in Wamena and the police suspected Yasons along with his friends to be linked to it. The allegation, however, could not be proven and the police later released the activists after their 24 hours of arrest. According to the transcript of the police interview with the arrested persons, the police considered Yasons as the suspect of the bomb case in Wamena, Denny is merely a witness, whereas the status of the rest three is still unclear.
Yasons Sambom and Denny Hisage are well known for their activities in favour of Papuan independence, whereas the three other arrested people are university students. There is an allegation that their arrest was actually more likely to have been caused by their political activities instead of the suspicion that they were involved in the import of explosive materials.
On the day of the arrest, the police seized several belongings of the activists which contained confidential and important information regarding their political activities. Those belongings include a laptop, four USB flash disks and one CD containing several documents – none are related to the import of illegal explosive materials which was the crime the activists were alleged to be involved in. Although the police returned all of these items to Denny Hisage and his friends, they managed to copy the documents before releasing the activists.
Prosecution, trial and punishment of activists in Papua are ongoing human rights issues taking place in the region. The use of articles concerning treason or treason-related activities (Article 106, 110 and 160) against the activists is typical that it has been a concern of several states involved in the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Indonesia last May.
Leaders and members of pro-independence groups or those who are in favour of the independence movement had also been prosecuted with other criminal provisions which in many cases they had not breached. In the past, Yason himself was arrested twice. He was firstly arrested in 2009 due to his involvement in a peaceful protest asking the government to stop the violence and abuses in Papua. Later in May 2011 he was arrested without a clear charge and several documents on his political activities saved on his laptop were also copied by the police.
Victims of fabricated charges might seek compensation to the court once the legal proceedings against them prove they are not guilty. Yet the officers responsible for such abuse are unlikely to be criminally punished due to the absence of a law provision criminalising the fabrication of charges by law enforcement officials. The only specific prohibition on fabrication of charges is found in Article 6 letter (k) of Government Regulation No. 2 Year 2003 concerning the Discipline Rule for Members of Indonesian National Police whose one of articles sets out ‘in exercising their duties, the members of the Indonesian National Police are prohibited to manipulate cases’.
A complain to the Security and Profession Division (Propam), an internal oversight mechanism of the police, may be lodged by the victims yet the sanctions to be imposed will only be disciplinary. The similar government regulation sets out that any police officers who has manipulated a case may be sentenced to a maximum of 21 days of isolation which in some cases may be extended up to a further seven days.
The Criminal Procedure Code gives authority to the police to seize goods as well as to perform document checks. Goods to be seized and documents to be checked, however, have to be related to the crimes allegedly committed by the suspects. Article 39 of the Code sets out five general categories of seize-able goods: those which are products of a crime, used for a crime, used for halting the investigation of a crime, created specifically for a crime, and other goods that are directly related to the crime.
Please write to the listed authorities below asking them to ensure investigation on the arbitrary arrest, seizure and fabrication of charges of the five Papuan activists to take place.
The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right of opinion and expression as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.