Rare investigation into brutal killings of Papuans must result in justice

Responding to President Joko Widodo’s statement about the killing and dismemberment of four Papuans in Mimika regency, Papua allegedly by Indonesian military personnel, Amnesty International Indonesia Deputy Director Wirya Adiwena said:

“The President’s order for the military to cooperate with law enforcement on this heinous crime is a welcome first step. But given the long history of impunity and almost zero  record of accountability in Papua, we call on the military and law enforcement to ensure that all the suspected  perpetrators, including military personnel, are tried in open court under civilian criminal law, not in closed military courts with internal military sanctions.”

“We urge law enforcement to ensure that the impunity plaguing Papua for so many years is not perpetuated. Authorities must conduct a thorough, independent, impartial, transparent, and effective  investigation into the allegations,  and not allow the case to simply stall without resolution, as has been the case with too many cases of alleged unlawful killings by security forces in Papua.”


On 28 August, Papuan police announced that  nine people, six of whom are members of the Indonesian military, were suspected of killing four people in Mimika, beheading them and cutting of their legs before throwing them in a nearby river.

As of 31 August, the body parts of three victims have been found, while the remaining victim is still being searched for. Three people are in the custody of police, while the six soldiers are currently in the custody of military police in Mimika.

On 31 August, President Joko Widodo said that he had ordered the Indonesian Military Commander to assist the police in the legal process against the suspects.

According to Amnesty International Indonesia’s monitoring, between February 2018 and July 2022 there have been at least 61 suspected cases of unlawful killings in Papua and West Papua involving security forces, with a total of 99 victims.

Unlawful killings by the authorities constitute a violation of the right to life,  that is clearly protected by international human rights law.

Amnesty International takes no position whatsoever on the political status of any province of Indonesia, including on calls for independence. However, the organization considers that the right to freedom of expression protects the right to peacefully advocate for independence or any other political solutions that do not involve incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.