Outcry over intimidation of prominent Papuan lawyer

4 Sep 2014
Gustaf Kawer defends a client

Intimidation of prominent Papuan lawyer and human rights defender Gustaf Kawer has provoked a local, national and international outcry. Mr Kawer, who has provided legal defence for numerous cases involving peaceful political activity and indigenous land disputes, has bizarrely been summoned by Papua police as a witness in a case against himself. The case has been brought by a court judge after Mr Kawer criticised the judge for ignoring his request for the trial to be delayed, to allow himself and his client to be present at the hearing of a case involving an indigenous land dispute with the government. To date Mr Kawer has received two summons from the police and is threatened with prosecution under Articles 211 and 212 of the Penal Code. If proceedings continue Mr Kawer could potentially face up to four years imprisonment.

On 2 September local civil society groups demonstrated to protest the attempts to harass Mr Kawer, calling for process to be halted. Meanwhile, the local Papua Coalition for Human Rights released an urgent appeal, as have several international organisations, including a joint appeal by TAPOL and the International Coalition for Papua. They called on authorities to ensure the safety and protection of human rights lawyer Gustaf Kawer; an end of the legal intimidation of Mr Gustaf Kawer; an investigation into the attempted criminalisation against him, and for full protection of Papuan human rights defenders.

To read the appeal including the facts of the case in full, please click here.