100 Juta Suara Dukung "REFERENDUM" West Papua

15 Januari 2011

Indonesian military to try torture soldiers

TONY EASTLEY: The Indonesian military has put three low-ranking soldiers on trial over the torture of two Papuan men which was captured on video last year and which caused an international controversy when it was shown.
The military said it couldn't prosecute those responsible at the time because they weren't identifiable from the video.
The incident caused diplomatic strains and the case emerged as a test of Indonesia's commitment to uphold human rights.Indonesia correspondent, Matt Brown, reports from Jakarta.
MATT BROWN: Three young soldiers arrived in neatly pressed camouflage uniforms.
They were handcuffed but ushered gently into the military tribunal in Jayapura on Papua's north coast. Just weeks ago the military said this prosecution was impossible.
Now, after complaints from the Australian and US embassies in Jakarta, a report by the Indonesian government's Human Rights Commission and a hasty military investigation, two privates and a sergeant are in the dock.

However, human rights activists say these proceedings fall far short of justice. The troops had been in Papua less than two months when they allegedly videoed their brutal treatment of the two men.

(Excerpt from video of the torture incident)

Indonesia has signed the UN Convention Against Torture but its parliament has so far failed to make a domestic law to that effect. Nevertheless the soldiers were going to be charged with assault.

But the prosecutor claims that charge was dropped because the two victims couldn’t be found.

So now they're being charged with disobeying the orders of their superiors who supposedly told them when their Papua deployment began that they are forbidden from torturing people during questioning.

According to Rafendi Djamin from the Human Rights Working Group that means a light sentence is on the cards.

RAFENDI DJAMIN: They will get a sentence about 3 months and 6 months or even only an administrative punishment. That means they will be just moved or transferred to another deployment. So it is not really the heavy punishment that should be applied for such an act of torture.

MATT BROWN: Papuan Human rights activist, Markus Haluk, says he doesn't believe the investigators tried to find the victims.

(Markus Haluk speaking)

“What's happening is one sided because no victims were present in court,” he says. “It's rushed, to avoid the real issues: human rights violations.”

Rafendi Djamin says the fact the soldiers videoed the abuse, one of several videoed cases of abuse last year, shows they still work amidst a culture of impunity which appears unlikely to change.

RAFENDI DJAMIN: The key point is that they still dare to do that at this stage when Indonesia is already facing twelve years of democratisations. That means the proof only that there is no deterrent effect at all since the twelve years of Indonesian reforms.

MATT BROWN: The trial will continue next week.

This is Matt Brown in Jakarta for AM.

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