Indonesia – Human rights lawyer Ms Latifah Anum Siregar attacked in Papua province

latifah_anum_siregarFront Line -On 16 September 2014, at about 11:00 p.m., human rights lawyer Ms Latifah Anum Siregar, was physically attacked and robbed while returning back from the pre-trial court hearings to her hotel in Wamena city, Papua province.

The assailants also stole Latifah Anum Siregar’s suitcase, which contained her laptop and documentation relating to an ongoing legal case.

Latifah Anum Siregar is the chairperson of the Alliance for Democracy in Papua and Front Line Defenders’ nominee for Human Rights Defenders at risk in 2008.

Latifah Anum Siregar was stabbed in the hand by unknown attackers, who also stole her suitcase. The human rights lawyer had travelled from Jayapura, capital of Papua province, to Wamena in order to defend Mr Areki Wanimbo, Head of the Lani Besar Tribal Council, who was arrested and charged with “separatism” for allegedly assisting French journalists to shoot a documentary about separatist movement in a region. Latifah Anum Siregar is appealing the arrest of the tribal leader, who denies the charges.

On 6 August 2014, French journalists Ms Valentine Bourrat and Mr Thomas Dandois from Arte TV were detained in their hotel in Wamena and later were accused of violating Indonesia’s migration rules as they allegedly used tourist visas to shoot a documentary on the separatist movement in Papua province. If the court finds the journalists guilty, they face up to five years’ imprisonment.

According to Indonesian legislation, foreign journalists need to obtain special visa and additional accreditation to work in Papua region. As a rule, authorities tend to reject almost all such applications. Investigative authorities in Papua province have reportedly threatened to accuse the arrested journalists of “espionage” and “cooperation with insurgents”.

On 16 September 2014, Latifah Anum Siregar did not have enough time to file a formal complaint with the police as there was no police station around her hotel and she did not feel safe to search for police station in Wamena during the night time. As she was in court that day and the following day, Latifah Anum Siregar was able to report the incident with officials only once she reached Wamema airport on 17 September 2014.

On 19 September 2012, Papuan human rights lawyer Ms Olga Hamadi was legally representing victims of alleged of police torture in a case when she was threatened at the entrance of Wamena District Court. In opposition to her clients’ case, an angry crowd blocked Olga Hamadi from entering the court, threatened her with violence and warned her to withdraw the court application. Reportedly, nearby police officers did not attempt to protect the lawyer. On 20 September 2012, due to ongoing concerns about her safety and the lack of protection from the authorities, Olga Hamadi withdrew the pre-trial application in the case of alleged police torture and returned to Jayapura.

Another Papua human rights lawyer, Mr Gustaf Kawer, is currently at risk of arrest and was forced to leave his house as a result of judicial harassment in respect of his work as a defence lawyer.

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