Amnesty International has criticised the trial and sentences handed to Indonesian soldiers who were filmed abusing Papuan prisoners.
The three soldiers who were shown kicking and physically abusing Papuan villagers on film last October were today sentenced to prison terms of between eight and 10 months by a military court in Papua. The abuse video was widely circulated via Youtube.
“It is incredible that senior Indonesian government officials have called this abuse - which included one of the men having his genitals burned – a ‘minor violation’." said Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Deputy Programme Director Donna Guest.
“While we welcome government efforts to provide justice for the two Papuan men, the fact that the victims were too frightened to testify in person due to the lack of adequate safety guarantees, raises serious questions about the trial process."
An Indonesian Military Court in Papua began hearing the case of soldiers – a sergeant and two privates from the Nabire 753 Infantry Battalion - earlier this month.
The Military Court sentenced the three soldiers under the Military Criminal Code for disobeying orders.
Amnesty International believes that this should not preclude further charges of torture or similar crimes being brought against the soldiers in civilian court.
The organisation maintains that human rights violations should be prosecuted in civilian courts not military courts, so that trials can be independent and witnesses properly protected.
Torture and other ill-treatment are absolutely prohibited under international law. As a state party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), Indonesia is legally bound to prohibit torture and other ill-treatment in all circumstances. The National Constitution and the 1999 Human Rights Act also prohibit torture.