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Authorities Should Assist Papuan PoCs to Return to Their Homes

Responding to reports that four ex- prisoners of conscience (PoCs) from Papua in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, have yet to receive any financial assistance from the authorities since their release and are unable to go back home, Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director, Usman Hamid, said:

“We urge the authorities to provide assistance to these four former prisoners of conscience so that they can go back home to Papua, and to their families.

“The authorities, through the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), are obliged to help all released prisoners to safely return to their hometowns. To deny them their rights in this way would amount to victimising them.  They should never have been jailed in the first place. The authorities should provide them the financial assistance and support that they need without further delay.”

Background

Amnesty International Indonesia received a report on 8 July 2020 from one of the lawyers of seven Papuan prisoners of conscience (PoC) that the Indonesian authorities have yet to process the return of four PoCs since their release.

The lawyer said the Attorney General’s Office claimed they had no money to process their return. Those who have been released are currently staying at a lawyer’s house in Balikpapan. They are still awaiting further updates from the authorities regarding their returning.

Those ex-PoCs who have been released – Alexander Gobay, Feri Kombo, Irwanus Uropmabin, and Hengki Hilapok. The other three – Buchtar Tabuni, Steven Itlay, and Agus Kossay – are scheduled to be released next month.

Judges at the Balikpapan District Court sentenced each of them 10 to 11 months imprisonment for treason. They were previously arrested by the authorities after joining a peaceful rally in Jayapura, Papua, in August and September 2019 to protest against racism.

Fery Kombo and Alexander Gobay were released on 2 July 2020. Irwanus Uropmabin and Hengki Hilapok followed on 8 July 2020. Buchtar Tabuni will be released on 4 August 2020, while Stevanus Itlay will set free on 8 August 2020. Agus Kossay will be released on 15 August 2020.

The process of returning prisoners to their hometowns is the responsibility of the state, as stated in Article 56 of Government Regulation (PP) No. 31/1999 about Guidance for Prisoners, which reads: “Prisoners who have completed their detention periods will get financial assistance for repatriation to their homes.”