Case Studies

Benny Wenda: Persecuted by the Indonesian government


Benny Wenda is a West Papuan tribal leader who leads an international campaign for the independence of West Papua from Indonesia. Due to his activities he was persecuted by the Indonesian government, subjected to torture and a politically-motivated prosecution.

He escaped to the UK and was given asylum in 2002. Benny is now a British citizen and lives with his wife and six children in Oxford.

In 2011, Benny discovered that INTERPOL had listed a Red Notice against him following a request from the Indonesian police. This Red Notice authorized Benny’s provisional arrest with a view to extradition to face prosecution on the same politically-motivated charges that caused him to flee from West Papua. Benny was in danger of arrest and extradition back to Indonesia. Despite being the leader in exile of his people, Benny was unable to travel to meet with international campaign supporters or with other West Papuan exiles. Indonesia had used the Red Notice to continue its persecution from afar.

Benny’s case demonstrates how INTERPOL is abused by oppressive and undemocratic regimes to pursue political opponents. Fair Trials was able to get the Red Notice against Benny removed, but the case introduced Fair Trials to the problems around INTERPOL, and the need for broader reform to prevent abuse of this powerful international body and to give people like Benny a fair chance to challenge a notice.