Bishop says official inaction contributed to alcohol linked deaths in Papua

An Indonesian bishop has accused local authorities in Papua of ignoring an alcohol ban, saying their inaction has contributed to a spate of deaths linked to the consumption of bootleg liquor.

According to Papua police, 86 people have died, 264 have been seriously injured and 839 injured slightly since 2013 in alcohol-related incidents.

Papua governor Lukas Enembe as well law enforcement agencies and officials signed an “integrity pact” on March 30 this year that included prohibiting the production, distribution and sale of alcohol.

However, instead of making crackdowns, some officials are helping supply people with alcohol, according to Bishop John Philip Saklil of Timika.

He called for authorities to vigorously enforce the ban they put in place.

His call follows a string of deaths linked to adulterated homemade liquor.

Inaction from local government and security personnel, as well as general ignorance about bootleg alcohol contributed to the deaths, according to Saklil.

He added that because of such ignorance, the consumption of alcohol particularly bootleg liquor in his diocese, has become widespread.

The bishop claimed security personnel must have some role in supplying and selling liquor since people living in areas they can access but others find difficult to reach have a steady supply of alcohol.

“It’s impossible they don’t know anything about it,” he said, suggesting there was a deliberate policy not to enforce the ban.

“The involvement of military and police in supplying and selling liquor and their reluctance to deal with violators of the ban, resulting in them letting perpetrators of crimes go is valid proof.”

He referred to the deaths of the seven young men, saying three out of four people suspected of selling of bootleg liquor in the area avoided arrest, while the other was arrested but released a few hours later.

Papua police chief Inspector General Paulus Waterpauw couldn’t be reached for comment on the bishop’s allegation.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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