West Papua activist Viktor Yeimo denied passport due to police ban

Viktor Yeimo
Viktor Yeimo leaving Abepura Correctional Institution, Jayapura City, on Saturday (23/9/2023). - Jubi/Theo Kelen

Nabire, Jubi – Viktor Yeimo, the international spokesperson for the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), revealed his unsuccessful attempts to obtain a passport. Yeimo expressed that the Jayapura Immigration Office refused to issue him a passport as he has been barred by the National Police since December 2021.

On Thursday, December 8, 2023, Yeimo received notification from the Immigration Intelligence and Enforcement Section about the police-imposed ban. The barring request was submitted by the police on December 23, 2021, and approved on December 25, 2021.

Yeimo believes that this ban violates his fundamental rights as he has completed his sentence and is no longer involved in any criminal case. “I believe the Immigration Office should not restrict my citizenship rights to possess a passport for international travel,” Yeimo stated.

Previously charged with subversion for allegedly orchestrating an anti racial protest in Jayapura City on August 19 and 29, 2019, Yeimo was acquitted of the charges by the Jayapura District Court on May 5, 2023. However, the panel of judges found Yeimo guilty of violating Article 155 paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code. This particular article pertains to disseminating, displaying, or affixing writings or drawings in public that contain expressions of hostility, hatred, or insults against the Indonesian Government. The Jayapura District Court then sentenced Yeimo to eight months in prison.

The verdict sparked controversy as Article 155 paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code was never formally charged against Yeimo. Moreover, the article used to sentence him to eight months had already been annulled by the Constitutional Court.

On May 12, 2023, the Public Prosecutor and the Coalition for Law Enforcement and Human Rights in Papua, acting as Yeimo’s legal representatives, both filed appeals against the Jayapura District Court’s decision. In the appellate ruling, the Jayapura High Court annulled the Jayapura District Court’s decision dated May 5, 2023.

The Jayapura High Court declared Yeimo convincingly guilty of subversion and sentenced him to one year in prison as per the prosecutor’s initial indictment. Yeimo served his sentence and was released on September 23, 2023, but he remains barred and unable to obtain a passport.

Yeimo explained that the Jayapura Immigration Office acknowledged that he was no longer involved in any case; however, the ban against him had not been lifted. The Jayapura Immigration Office suggested that Yeimo contact the police and request the revocation of the ban.

“I will seek legal assistance to write to the Papua Police Chief and the Head of the Regional Office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights in Papua to immediately lift the ban, as it potentially restricts my citizenship rights,” he remarked.

Viktor Yeimo is an activist with the KNPB, a movement advocating for Papua’s independence through peaceful means. Recently, Yeimo was honored with the Voltaire Empty Chair Award by Liberty Victoria, Australia. (*)

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