In a statement released on Monday, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Mary Lawlor urged Indonesia to provide West Papuan human rights defender Victor Yeimo with proper medical care to keep him from dying in prison after reports that his health had deteriorated.
As part of his work, Yeimo had provided information to the international media about human rights in West Papua. He was imprisoned in May 2021.
Yeimo went on trial in a Jayapura court at the end of August, despite a number of requests from his lawyers for a delay on urgent medical grounds. He was charged with treason and incitement in relation to his peaceful involvement in anti-racism and self-determination protests in 2019. Yeimo has denied the charges.
In Monday’s statement, Lawlor said she had “seen it before: States deny medical care to the ailing, imprisoned human rights defenders, which results in serious illness or death . . . Indonesia must take urgent steps to ensure the fate does not await Mr Yeimo.”
This comes after Lawlor and other rights experts raised their concerns about Yeimo’s charges with the Indonesian government in June. The experts pointed out that Yeimo’s medical conditions put him at risk of COVID-19, against which he had not yet been vaccinated. The report asked for information on the legal and factual basis for the charges brought against Yeimo, and whether they were consistent with Indonesia’s obligations under international law.
Lawlor said Yeimo’s prison conditions “may have amounted to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” She also noted that his treatment appeared to form part of a pattern of retaliation against defenders of human rights in Papua and West Papua.