Saturday, June 6, 2009

West Papuan Prisoners Tortured

West Papuan Prisoners Tortured

US-based Human Rights Watch on Friday called on Indonesia to look into the reported torture and abuse of prisoners in a jail in the province of Papua.

In a press release, Human Rights Watch singled out brutality by prison guards at the state jail in Abepura, near the Papua capital of Jayapura.

The watchdog cited reports of more than two dozen cases of beatings and physical abuse since Anthonius Ayorbaba, a former official of the Jayapura office of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, became the prison warden in August 2008.

It called on the government to replace the prison administration, open the penitentiary to international monitoring and set up an independent team to probe the reports of abuse in Abepura prison, which currently has about 230 prisoners, including more than a dozen incarcerated because of their political activities.

Access to Papua has been strictly limited. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also ordered the International Committee of the Red Cross to close its field office in Jayapura. The ICRC ran sanitation projects in Papua and also visited detainees, including political prisoners, in Abepura prison.

Papua has seen a low-level separatist movement since the 1960s but pro-independence sentiments have been on the rise in the face of perceived injustice in the economy and alleged abuses by security forces in their drive to rid the province of separatism.

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