Monitoring and Analysis of the First Trial of Human Rights Court in the Paniai Case “Only Prosecuting One Person in the Paniai Case, Who are the Prosecutors Protecting?”

After 18 years of apparent death, the Human Rights Court in Indonesia is back at work. On Wednesday, September 21, 2022, the Human Rights Court was reactivated where the first trial of the Human Rights Court was held at the Makassar District Court to try the Paniai case 2014. The agenda for the trial was the reading of the indictment against the only Defendant, Major Inf. (Ret.) Isak Sattu (IS), retired TNI-AD Former liaison officer for the 1705/Paniai Kodim in Paniai Regency. The charges against the perpetrators are in the form of cumulative charges: First, Article 42 paragraph (1) letter a and letter b jis Article 7 letter b, Article 9 letter a, Article 37 of Law no. 26/2000 on Human Rights Courts; and secondly, Article 42 paragraph (1) letter a and letter b jis Article 7 letter b, Article 9 letter h, Article 40 of Law no. 26/2000 on Human Rights Court.

The Coalition understands that based on the indictment, IS was first charged with criminal responsibility for the actions committed by his subordinates (command responsibility) , namely in committing crimes against humanity in the form of murder with a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum death penalty. Second, IS was charged with command responsibility as well as for crimes against humanity in the form of persecution, with a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 20 years in prison.

The coalition found several irregularities. First, the Attorney General identified the sole perpetrator in the construction of the 2014 Paniai case as a crime against humanity that occurred through “widespread or systematic attacks knowing that the attacks were directed directly against the civilian population.” The attack must have involved more than one perpetrator. International law and standards applicable to crimes against humanity clearly state that those with command responsibility and those who directly committed the crimes should be held criminally responsible. 

Komnas HAM’s investigation divided the alleged perpetrators into several categories, namely field actors, policymakers command, effective command in the field, and perpetrators of neglect. Logically, the person in charge of the command is responsible for crimes against humanity committed by his subordinates. 

We remind that the context of command responsibility does not stop at the person who gives orders, but also includes the responsibility of superiors who do not prevent or stop acts of gross human rights violations or hand over the perpetrators to the competent authorities for investigation, investigation, and prosecution as stated in Article 42 of the Court Law. HAM. Therefore, the indictment should not only target IS as a Liaison Officer but also superiors who, in this case, have been suspected of not preventing or stopping and handing over the perpetrators to the authorities. At this point, the Prosecutor should not appear to protect the perpetrators by not prosecuting the perpetrators who have the potential to violate human rights.

More than that, the Prosecutor should have started by proving that the field actors had committed crimes against humanity. If the Prosecutor starts from the person in charge of the command, then if the person in charge is acquitted by the Court, it will result in the field actors being further charged by the Prosecutor.  

Second, the Coalition recalls Komnas HAM’s statement that once raised an obstruction of justice to be able to ensnare criminal responsibility involving TNI officials on top of Defendant IS. The coalition questioned why this criminal act of obstruction of justice escapes the current legal process. On that basis, the Coalition considers that the AGO’s indictment has obscured the legal construction of crimes against humanity in this case, one of which is by only naming IS as the only defendant who will even harm his human rights because it could only be used as a “scapegoat”. 

Third, although the Coalition respects that the Defendant’s not being detained is indeed at the discretion of law enforcement (Investigators/Prosecutors/Judges) at their respective levels of examination, the Coalition regrets the effects of this decision. Indeed, on the one hand, using a minimum of coercive measures such as detention is a good trial. But on the other hand, the Indonesian people can see that, in reality, detention is more often given to Suspects/Defendants who come from small groups of people with more straightforward crimes than crimes against humanity.

Fourth, the Coalition also regrets that security outside the court remains an unaddressed problem. First, the day before the Paniai Human Rights Court hearing was held, Tuesday, September 20, 2022, at 13.30 WITA, five people in ordinary clothes and one person in police uniform were suspected by the Makassar Police Intelligence of terrorizing and intimidating Papuan students by visiting the rented houses of Papuan students, especially students from Paniai. They asked if there was a Berat Paniai Human Rights Court demonstration and stood guard at the entrance to the rented house.

Fifth, the Coalition considers that the State, in this case, the Supreme Court and the Court, does not provide proper protection to the Panel of Judges. When compared with the three previous Human Rights Courts, this inadequate protection condition occurs for the court of Defendant IS, who is currently retired and does not hold positions with many troops. Intended to protect judges and court visitors if the Defendant is an active officer with a high position.

We urge the Supreme Court and the District Court to provide proper protection for the Panel of Judges and witnesses and coordinate with the Makassar Police Chief as well to ensure security, especially for OAP residing in Makassar in connection with this trial.

In addition, we urge the Attorney General to thoroughly investigate all perpetrators, apart from IS, who are directly responsible or hold command responsibility and bring them to justice. With only one person being prosecuted in this trial, we finally need to ask: Who are the prosecutor protecting? 


2014 Paniai Monitoring Coalition

21 September 2021