Monday, January 24, 2011

Anger at Light Sentences for Indonesian soldiers over Papua Torture

• A military tribunal in Papua that handed light sentences to three soldiers involved in torturing two civilians faced a chorus of anger from activists who called it a gross injustice that they had not been tried for human rights violations.

The court-martial on Monday found the three soldiers guilty on charges of insubordination for failing to inform their superiors that they had detained and tortured the two Papuan civilians, Tunaliwor Kiwo and Telangga Gire, on May 27 last year.

A 10-minute video of the torture taken on a cellphone prompted international outrage when it was posted on YouTube in October. Among the abuses, it showed Tunaliwor being burned on the genitals with a smoldering stick.

Soldiers’ sentence insufficient: Amnesty International
Rights group Amnesty International said that the prison sentence handed down to three military personnel who were caught on film torturing Papuans was insufficient.

The Military Court in Papua sentenced three soldiers to eight, nine and 10 months imprisonment under the Military Criminal Procedure Code for disobeying orders.

The three soldiers allegedly tortured two Papuan men in May 2010. A video depicting the torture spread through the Internet in October 2010.

According to Amnesty International, the sentence “should not preclude charges of torture or similar crimes brought against the officers”.

“Amnesty International is also concerned that these sentences do not match the severity of the crimes,” Amnesty Southeast Asia research and campaign assistant Laura Haigh wrote through e-mail.

Civilian courts, not military courts, gave a better guarantee on the prosecution of crimes related to human rights violations and provided better witness protection, she added.

Military courts were “unlikely to be impartial and independent,” she said.

“While we welcome government efforts to provide justice for the two Papuan men, the fact that the victims were too frightened to testify due to the lack of adequate safety guarantees raises serious questions about the trial process,” she said.

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