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Papua governor sets up human rights legal team

Provincial chief recruits legal experts to fight cases for indigenous people in the restive Indonesian region

Papua governor sets up human rights legal team

Papua governor Lukas Enembe has established a legal team to represent indigenous Papuans in cases involving violence and human rights violations in the Indonesian province. (Photo: Papua provincial government)

Published: March 01, 2022 08:09 AM GMT

Updated: March 01, 2022 08:19 AM GMT

The governor of Indonesia’s Papua province has established a specialized legal team to better protect and represent indigenous Papuans subjected to human rights abuses and facing other legal cases.

Lukas Enembe said people in Indonesia’s restive and easternmost region were in need of a crack team to ensure they receive justice and that their human rights are respected.

He has chosen three lawyers — Saur Siagian, a Protestant, Stefanus Roy Rening, a Catholic, and Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia — to represent them.

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Enembe announced the establishment of the legal team on Feb. 27.

The move comes amid a rise in complaints by indigenous Papuans that state forces are making arbitrary arrests and committing acts of violence against civilians.

It also follows a recent request by United Nations special rapporteurs seeking explanations to accusations of state violence, torture and enforced disappearances in the troubled region. 

We are given authority to offer representation and pursue institutions involved in legal and political cases in Papua, particularly rights protection for Papuan indigenous people

"The governor chose these lawyers because they have extensive experience in fighting such cases," said the Papuan governor’s spokesman Rifai Darus.

Rening said he felt honored to have been chosen for the task.

“We are given authority to offer representation and pursue institutions involved in legal and political cases in Papua, particularly rights protection for Papuan indigenous people,” he told UCA News on March 1. 

He said there are several such cases in Papua that the new team needs to address and must be handled soon.

Likewise, Amnesty’s Hamid welcomed the governor’s move, saying the team will work closely with rights groups in Papua.

He pointed to cases where religious leaders were attacked in Intan Jaya district, including Reverend Yeremia Zanambani, who was shot dead in 2020. 

“We aim to ensure victims will get justice,” Hamid told UCA News.

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