13 Apr 2015

Rights Commission call on Paniai killings a 'good first step'

1:00 pm on 13 April 2015

An announcement by Indonesia's Human Rights Commission that it will recommend a pro-justicia inquiry into killings of four students in Papua last year has been described as a good first step.

In the December incident, Indonesian security forces allegedly opened fire on hundreds of peaceful protesters in Paniai regency in Papua province, resulting in the deaths of four Papuan students and injuries to dozens of others.

An expert in Indonesian history and politics, Dr Richard Chauvel of Melbourne's Victoria University says the response of Indonesia's President Jokowi to the killings has been indecisive.

But he says the Commission's input could help influence discourse in Jakarta about this incident.

"I think it is a positive first step in the direction of shining greater light on those killings... not necessarily with any teeth. I think it's a necessary first step but there's quite a few steps that they're going to need to follow it."

Dr Richard Chauvel says a key question remains whether Jokowi is going to change the culture of impunity around abuses by security forces in Papua region.

He says while it is still early in Jokowi's presidency, prospects are uncertain given that his predecessor also began his tenure with intentions for security forces reform but was only able to make limited inroads over ten years.

New video shows aftermath of last December's (2014) fatal shooting of four Papuan youths by Indonesian forces

New video shows aftermath of last December's fatal shooting of four Papuan youths by Indonesian forces Photo: supplied