UPDATE: Cease criminal proceedings against Papuan lawyer Gustav Kawer

16 Oct 2014
TAPOL & International Coalition for Papua

Dear ______,


UPDATE: Cease criminal proceedings against Papuan lawyer Gustav Kawer

The International Coalition for Papua (ICP) and TAPOL are writing to update you on the criminal investigation against Mr. Gustaf Kawer, a prominent Papuan human rights lawyer. Following the preliminary summons addressed to him last month and the formal summons addressed to him via his bar association, a second summons has now been issued, showing that police still have no intention of dropping the investigation. After receiving the formal summons via his bar association, Mr. Kawer relocated to avoid the investigation, which may be an attempt to hinder the lawyer’s human rights work. The police absurdly accused Mr. Kawer of using violence or threat to resist public officials – under Articles 211 and 212 of the Indonesian Penal Code – for raising a legitimate objection in court and arguing with the judge during a hearing.

We have learned that the police have issued a second summons for Mr. Kawer and, if he does not respond, will issue a third summons and forcibly detain him. Given his advocate immunity and the lack of genuineness in the investigation, Mr. Kawer has not yet complied with the summons.

Meanwhile, police have allegedly intimidated Mr. Kawer’s wife, raising concerns for the safety of the lawyer’s family in Jayapura.

We request you to immediately intervene in this case, by urging the Indonesian police to discontinue the criminal investigation against Mr. Kawer. Equally important, we call you to urge the Indonesian authorities to ensure the safety of Mr. Kawer and his family in Jayapura.


Facts of the case

As previously reported in our letter dated 29 August 2014, Mr. Kawer received two witness summonses in August 2014, in relation to a case concerning resistance against public officials. Whereas the preliminary summons mentions that Mr. Kawer will only be questioned as a witness, communications between him and the police officer in charge as well as the first formal summons reveal that Mr. Kawer will be questioned about a case against himself. The criminal investigation was initiated following a complaint submitted by an administrative court judge, Warisman Sotaronggal, who was arguing with Mr. Kawer during a hearing on 12 June 2014. Mr. Kawer was raising an objection with the judge for dismissing his request to postpone the hearing.

On 17 September 2014 at 5 pm Papua time, an officer in plain clothes visited Mr. Kawer’s house to deliver the second police summons. However, Mr. Kawer’s wife who was at the house refused to accept the summons and told the officer to give it to her husband in person. The officer responded by saying “Are you threatening me? I’m just doing my job,” and attempted to take pictures of her. Mrs Kawer retreated into the house and the police officer reportedly remained close to the house photographing it for some time, making Mrs. Kawer feel intimidated.


Our concerns

Whereas it is undisputed that the argument between Mr. Kawer and the judge had taken place, a criminal investigation against the lawyer is an excessive response that we are concerned it may be intended to hinder Mr. Kawer’s human rights work. We have not been informed that Mr. Kawer has posed any threats or committed any violence against the judge during the hearing on 12 June 2014. We therefore question the use of Articles 211 and 212 of the Penal Code – concerning the use of violence or threat to resist public officials – against Mr. Kawer.

Violations of these articles are punishable with maximum imprisonments of four years and 16 months, respectively. The failure of the police to use a more suitable article with a lighter punishment – for instance, Article 217 of the Penal Code concerning contempt of court, punishable with maximum imprisonment of only three weeks – has led us to question the genuineness of the criminal investigation. The suspicion of lack of genuineness in the investigation is further raised due to the long gap (over 2 months) between the actual incidence and the first summons. 

Another Papuan human rights lawyer, Ms. Olga Hamadi, was previously threatened in 2012 for representing five torture victims in Wamena. We have also been informed that another human rights lawyer, Ms. Anum Sinegar, was recently attacked by an unidentified person carrying a knife on 16 September 2014, while she was working on a pretrial hearing for a highly politicised case. Given Indonesia’s poor track records in protecting human rights workers in Papua, we believe that any criminal investigation against Mr. Kawer should be treated with great caution.



We are calling on you to intervene in this case by urging the Indonesian National Police to halt the criminal investigation against Mr. Kawer, and to ensure his safety and the safety of his family.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require further information.


Contact details of authorities in Indonesia


Gen. Sutarman

Chief of the Indonesian National Police

Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3 Kebayoran Baru

Jakarta Selatan 12110


Tel: +62 21 523 4240, 384 8537

Fax: +62 21 720 7277



Mr. Yotje Mende

Chief of Papua Regional Police

Jl. Samratulangi No. 8 Jayapura


Tel: +62 967 531 014

Fax: +62 967 533 763


Mr. Hafid Abbas

National Human Rights Commission

Jl. Latuharhary No. 4-B

Jakarta 10310


Tel: +62 21 392 5230

Fax: +62 21 392 5227


Ms. Harkristuti Harkrisnowo
General Director for Human Rights
Ministry of Law and Human Rights
Gedung Direktorat Jenderal Hak Asasi Manusia
Jl. HR Rasuna Said Kav 4-5
Kuningan, Jakarta Selatan
Telp: +62 21 252 1344
Fax: +62 21 4555 55676


Yours sincerely,


Norman H. Voss, The International Coalition for Papua, Germany

Esther Cann, TAPOL, United Kingdom

West Papua Netzwerk, Germany