INDONESIA: Human rights defenders in Papua

Date: September 16, 2014
Document id:ALRC-COS-27-16-2014
Speaker:Mr.Damion Vogt
HRC section: Item 3, General Debate

A Joint Oral Statementto the 27th Session of the UN Human Rights Council from 21 NGOs

INDONESIA: Human rights defenders in Papua

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, MrGustafKawer. MrKawer 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 MrKawer learned that the case was against himself and a second summons shed light on the reasons; MrKawer, representing a client in an indigenous land dispute, protested against the judges of the Administrative Court (Pengadilan Tata Usaha Negara) of Jayapura[1] 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 (BadanPertanahanNasional) 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 MrKawer 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 MrKawer 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[2]and in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.[3]

Therefore, our coalition recommends the Government of Indonesia should immediately:

1. End the legal intimidation against human rights lawyer MrGustafKawer.
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
4. JPIC OFM Indonesia
5. JPIC MSC Indonesia
6. JPIC SVD Indonesia
7. JPIC Franciscans Papua
8.BersatuUntukKebenaran (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 KeuskupanAgungMerauke, 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)
19. Sawit Watch, Indonesia
20. AliansiDemokrasiuntuk Papua (ALDP)
21. Suara Papua Medi

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About ALRC

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) works towards the radical rethinking & fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in Asia, to ensure relief and redress for victims of human rights violations, as per Common Article 2 of the International Conventions. Sister organisation to the Asian Human Rights Commission, the ALRC is based in Hong Kong & holds general consultative status with the Economic & Social Council of the United Nations.

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