Indonesia: Amnesty Releases Report of Police Brutality, alleges ‘culture of impunity’

Updated On: Jun 29, 2009

Amnesty International accused Indonesia's police of routine beatings and demanding bribes or sex from suspects, part of what the human rights group called a culture of impunity in a report released Wednesday.

The 84-page document, "Unfinished Business: Police Accountability in Indonesia," was based on hundreds of interviews with law enforcement officials, lawyers, journalists, local human rights groups and victims in 2008 and 2009.

The human rights organisation demanded the Indonesian government acknowledge the problem and end the culture of impunity that allows police to act as if they are above the law in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

The report found that the police were particularly brutal to the most vulnerable and marginalised people, such as drug addicts and women.

"Amnesty International's report shows how widespread the culture of abuse is among the Indonesian police force," the organisation's Asia Pacific deputy director, Donna Guest, said.

Abuses meted out included shootings, electric shocks and beatings, sometimes for days on end, the report said.

"The suspects often received inadequate medical care for the injuries they received as a result of torture and other ill treatment," Amnesty said.

"In some cases detainees had to pay for treatment after police abused them, and received inadequate medical care from police medical institutions."

"At a time when the Indonesian government and senior police figures have made the commitment to enhance trust between the police and the community, the message is not being translated into practical steps," Guest said.

"Too many victims are left without access to real justice and reparations, thus fuelling a climate of mistrust towards the police."

It is the second report from a major international rights group to condemn torture in Indonesia this month.

US-based Human Rights Watch said on June 5 that torture and abuse of prisoners in a jail in Indonesia's sensitive Papua region is "rampant."

Indonesia is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture but it has no corresponding law against the practice.

The UN special rapporteur for torture visited Indonesia in 2007 and found that police used torture as a "routine practice in Jakarta and other metropolitan areas of Java".

A decade of political and institutional reform after the fall of the military-backed Suharto regime in 1998 has not significantly impacted the police and prison system.

Police spokesman Abubakar Nataprawira defended the record of the police, saying: "By 2010 we aim to be an institution loved, and not feared, by the people."

The police say restructuring of the force is still in progress, and that there is a mechanism in place to punish officers who take bribes.


AFP , Torture 'widespread' in Indonesia: Amnesty, 25 June 2009, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h68vkro81OHk5dZ-M6YLW...

BBC, Indonesia police abuse 'ongoing', 24 June 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8116340.stm

Taiwan News, Amnesty: Police brutality widespread in Indonesia, 24 June 2009, http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=985540&lang=eng_news

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