In Search of a Solution: An Independent Human Rights Team and Its Legitimacy in (West) Papua, Indonesia

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Milena Latuputty


In May 2016, a government-appointed human rights team of local civil society actors was installed in Indonesia for the resolution of a dozen alleged cases of human rights violations in (West) Papua between 1996 and 2014. This article discusses findings of thesis research into potential challenges to the legitimacy of above justice mechanism among Papuan civil society, based on qualitative field research in May-June 2017 among indigenous Papuan people, local civil society experts and documentary research. The key indicators of legitimacy are the mechanism's level of transparency and inclusion, (legal) scope of work, representation and victims’ needs assessment. The perceived flaws in these aspects lead to an overall belief that the team is subject to State influence. This could lead to the counter-effective outcome of a (further) division, instead of bridging a gap between Indonesian State institutions and the Papuan indigenous community. Also, this could lead to a division within the Papuan community itself. Overall, a State-appointed justice mechanism theoretically could be legitimate if certain conditions are met, yet the particular challenge of this mechanism is that it appears intrinsically counter-effective, as it is influenced by political interests that deviate from the purported objective of solving human rights cases, i.e. avoiding international interference with human rights violations in Papua and curbing independence sentiments. Presumably, Indonesian politics and the present-day poor safety conditions in Papua would render any government-appointed justice mechanism illegitimate, but also ineffective.


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Latuputty, M. (2020). In Search of a Solution: An Independent Human Rights Team and Its Legitimacy in (West) Papua, Indonesia. Journal of Human Rights and Peace Studies, 6(1), 1-27. Retrieved from
Research Articles


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