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Amnesty International Urges Indonesia to End Impunity for Police Violence
Human Rights Organization Finds Authorities Continue to Inflict Violence, Including Killing Peaceful Protesters, Without Fear of Sanctions
WASHINGTON - April 25 - Police in Indonesia shoot, beat and even kill people without fear of prosecution, leaving their victims with little hope of justice, Amnesty International reveals in a new briefing, Excessive Force: Impunity for Police Violence in Indonesia.
The briefing details examples of how – despite a decade of supposed reform – officers continue to be implicated in shootings and beatings of peaceful individuals during protests, land disputes and even day-to-day arrests.
Criminal investigations into human rights violations by the police are rare, and punishments light. Indonesia has no independent national body to deal effectively with public complaints.
"Indonesia's police use excessive force – even murder – without fear of sanctions, while victims are left without any hope of justice," said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International's Indonesia campaigner. "Those affected by police violence need an independent body that can properly investigate such allegations, and which has a mandate to submit its findings for prosecution."
Both Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) and the National Police Commission (Kompolnas) can receive public complaints about police misconduct, but have no remit to refer cases involving human rights violations to the Public Prosecutor's office.
Police in Indonesia routinely use excessive force, including firearms, to quell peaceful protests.
On December 24, 2011, three individuals were killed and dozens injured as 100 people peacefully blocked a road in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara province, in protest over a mining exploration permit. Around 600 police, including the Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob), were dispatched to disperse them.
Reports indicate that the Bima District Police Chief ordered officers to use force to quell the protest.
In internal police disciplinary proceedings, five police officers were reportedly punished with three days' detention for beating and kicking protestors who had not resisted.
Amnesty International, however, is not aware of any criminal investigation into the shootings at Bima, or the ill-treatment of protestors.
"Internal disciplinary procedures are for dealing with minor offenses, not human rights violations," said Benedict. "Those suspected of unnecessary or excessive use of force and firearms, including those with command responsibility, should be prosecuted in proceedings which meet international standards and the victims must be granted reparations."
In another incident on October 19, 2011, three people were killed and more than 90 injured when police and military surrounded the Third Papuan People's Congress, a peaceful gathering in Abepura, Papua province. An investigation by Komnas HAM found that security forces had opened fire on the gathering. Yet despite internal disciplinary proceedings, no criminal investigation into the shootings has been initiated.
In North Sumatra province, in a land dispute in June 2011, Brimob officers attempting to forcibly evict a community in Langkat district reportedly fired tear gas and live and rubber bullets at villagers defending their homes, injuring at least nine people. To Amnesty International's knowledge, no investigation into that incident has been made.
"Victims of police violence should not have to wait for justice," said Benedict. "Indonesia must ensure all reports of unlawful killings or beatings by police are investigated promptly by an independent body whose findings are made public."
Amnesty International also called on Indonesia to review police tactics during arrests and public order policing, to ensure that they meet international standards.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.