“Deradicalisation” and Indonesian Prisons
“Deradicalisation” and Indonesian Prisons
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Report 142 / Asia

“Deradicalisation” and Indonesian Prisons

Indonesia, like many countries where Islamic jihadi cells have been uncovered, has been experimenting over the last three years with “deradicalisation” programs.

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Executive Summary

Indonesia, like many countries where Islamic jihadi cells have been uncovered, has been experimenting over the last three years with “deradicalisation” programs. While the term is poorly defined and means different things to different people, at its most basic it involves the process of persuading extremists to abandon the use of violence. It can also refer to the process of creating an environment that discourages the growth of radical movements by addressing the basic issues fuelling them, but in general, the broader the definition, the less focused the program created around it. Experience suggests that deradicalisation efforts in Indonesia, however creative, cannot be evaluated in isolation and they are likely to founder unless incorporated into a broader program of prison reform.

One Indonesian initiative, focused on prisoners involved in terrorism, has won praise for its success in persuading about two dozen members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and a few members of other jihadi organisations to cooperate with the police. Key elements are getting to know individual prisoners and responding to their specific concerns, often relating to economic needs of their families, as well as constant communication and attention. One premise is that if through kindness, police can change the jihadi assumption that government officials are by definition thoghut (anti-Islamic), the prisoners may begin to question other deeply-held tenets.

Once prisoners show a willingness to accept police assistance, they are exposed to religious arguments against some forms of jihad by scholars whose credentials within the movement are unimpeachable. Some have then accepted that attacks on civilians, such as the first and second Bali bombings and the Australian embassy bombing, were wrong. The economic aid, however, is ultimately more important than religious arguments in changing prisoner attitudes.

The Indonesian program until now has largely been viewed in isolation from other developments and without much questioning about cause and effect. There has been little attempt, for example, to assess whether more people are leaving jihadi organisations than joining them; whether the men joining the program were already disposed to reject bombing as a tactic; or whether the initiative has created any backlash in jihadi ranks. There has been almost no public discussion about where the appropriate balance should be between leniency toward perpetrators, in an effort to prevent future attacks, and justice for victims.

There has also been insufficient attention to the relationship between the deradicalisation program and the Indonesian corrections system – and the gains of the one can be undermined by the poor performance of the other. Indonesia has some 170 men (no women) currently incarcerated for involvement in jihadi crimes, less than half JI members. About 150 men and one woman have been released after serving sentences for crimes related to terrorist acts, more than 60 in 2006-2007 alone.

Ultimately, the police initiative is aimed at using ex-prisoners as a vanguard for change within their own communities after their release but the task is made infinitely harder by a lax prison regime where jihadi prisoners band together to protect themselves against inmate gangs; where hardcore ideologues can and do recruit ordinary criminals and prison wardens to their cause; and where corruption is so pervasive that it reinforces the idea of government officials as anti-Islamic. In fact, counter-terrorism police do their best to keep jihadi detainees in police holding cells, knowing that as soon as they are transferred to prison, the chances of keeping them on the right track plummet.

Indonesian prison administrators have just begun to be included in counter-terrorism training programs. Their involvement should continue but the problem goes much deeper. Unless prison corruption is tackled, jihadis, like narcotics offenders, murderers, and big-time corruptors, will be able to communicate with anyone they want and get around any regulation designed to restrict their influence over other inmates. Unless prisons get more and better trained staff, they will not be able to address the problem of gangs and protection rackets among inmates that serve to strengthen jihadi solidarity. Unless prison administrators know more about the jihadis in their charge, they will not know what to look for in terms of recruitment – who among ordinary criminal inmates joins jihadi groups, why and for how long – or dissemination of radical teachings. Unless there is better coordination between prison authorities and the counter-terrorism police, they may end up working at cross-purposes.

Prison reform is urgently needed in Indonesia for many different reasons but helping buttress deradicalisation programs is one.

Jakarta/Brussels, 19 November 2007

Op-Ed / Asia

Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force

My four year-old daughter recently came home from her Jakarta kindergarten with a story about a visit to the school from the head of our local police station. 'If there is a robber and he's running away, the policeman will pull out his gun, fire in the air, and if he doesn't stop then he will shoot him in the leg', she recounted breathlessly.

I have spent 25 years working in and around conflict zones, including more than a decade in Indonesia. My reaction might not have been that of the average parent. 'That', I replied, 'is a violation of Perkap Number 8.' Needless to say, my reference to Police Regulation Number 8 of 2009 regarding Implementation of Human Rights Principles and Standards in the Discharge of Duties of the Indonesian National Police was lost on her. She thought the visit was great.

I had recalled Perkap 8 when re-reading the Hansard of the recent sparring between Australian Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr and Victoria Greens Senator Richard Di Natale over the police shooting of protesters in Papua. But it is not just in Papua where questionable use of deadly force by the Indonesian National Police (INP) takes place. It happens across the country. And this was what Perkap 8 was put in place to prevent.

Article 47 of Perkap 8 says that 'the use of firearms shall be allowed only if strictly necessary to preserve human life' and 'firearms may only be used by officers: a. when facing extraordinary circumstances; b. for self defense against threat of death and/or serious injury; c. for the defense of others against threat of death and/or serious injury.' This is Indonesian law, taken from the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, and this is what should be used to assess police actions, wherever in the country they occur.

The fatal shooting on 14 June 2012 of Mako Tabuni, deputy head of the National Committee of West Papua (KNPB), in Jayapura, capital of Papua province, made Senate Estimates in 2012. The shooting of three protesters in Sorong on 30 April 2013, West Papua province, was mentioned in the testy 5 June 2013 exchanges between Senators Carr and Di Natale. You can watch it above.

In the first incident, detectives shot a suspect in the leg as he was running away and then left him to die in a hospital allegedly without making any effort to treat his wounds. In the second, police claim they were threatened by armed KNPB activists. Without more information it is difficult to judge if their response was disproportionate. Police always say they are shooting in self-defense, but it has become such a common excuse that it has started to lose its plausibility.

Cases outside Papua do not garner much attention in Australia, but lethal shootings happen all the time. On 1 September 2011 seven villagers were killed during a rowdy protest against police brutality in the Central Sulawesi district of Buol, a place so obscure even most Indonesians cannot find it on a map.

On 7 March 2013, soldiers burned down a police station in Baturaja, South Sumatra, after their off-duty comrade, First Private Heru Oktavianus, was shot dead by a police officer while speeding away from a traffic violation.

On 8 May 2013 police in Java killed six suspected terrorists in a series of raids. The police usually claim the suspects were armed and resisted arrest. But it is not always true, and many could have almost certainly been captured alive.

Ordinary criminals are shot with distressing frequency, as my daughter's visitor suggests, without any outcry at home or abroad.

Perkap 8 was signed by the then police chief Sutanto, a real reformer. It has not gotten very far. One foreign police officer working on a bilateral community policing program in a large metropolitan command told me he had once seen a copy of the Perkap on the chief's desk but suspected it had been disseminated no further.

Even when progressive regulations or orders are issued and disseminated, they are not always followed. In October 2012, the police chief of Papua, Tito Karnavian, former head of the anti-terrorism unit Detachment 88 (Densus 88), announced that he had banned police from using live ammunition when handling demonstrations in the region. This was progress and it was implemented for some demos, but the deaths in the Sorong case suggest live ammunition was used.

As Article 46 of Perkap 8 says, 'all officers must be trained in the use of power, equipment and firearms that can be used in applying force' and 'must be trained in non-violent techniques and methods.' Training almost 400,000 officers across 33 provinces is a logistical challenge, though it might be a good idea to start with elite units such as Densus 88 or personnel in the Papua provinces.

The new national head of the INP, about to be appointed, might breathe new life into two reforms already in place: implementation of Perkap 8 and Chief Sutanto's other landmark regulation on community policing, Perkap 7. The INP is a very hierarchical organisation that does follow firm orders from above. While its size makes complex reform difficult, its hierarchical nature makes implementing existing regulations with firm orders easier.

The first duty of the incoming INP chief, who reports directly to the president, will be to secure the 2014 elections. Making sure those deployed to safeguard this 'festival of democracy' are properly trained and equipped to use non-lethal force will be an important first step. After a new head of state is elected, he or she should consider issuing a directive that would see Perkap 8 properly implemented. The use of less deadly force could even be politically popular in some parts.

Outside help may also be needed, and this is where Australia comes in. A few decades back, the Victorian state police had a problem of using too much deadly force and created Project Beacon to try to rectify it. They changed the way they thought about the problem, overhauled training, and gave officers on the beat new tools, like pepper spray. Foreign assistance along these lines could help the INP improve performance and increase accountability. Crisis Group has long argued that the INP needs better orders, training, and equipment for the use of non-deadly force.

If the INP is to be more the service it aspires to be rather than the force it is, it needs to shed its military mindset, hold serious post-operation reviews after each fatal incident, and decrease reliance on shooting first and asking questions later, regardless of whether officers are following locally accepted standard procedure. When the time comes and the INP is ready to carry forward the reform of Perkap 8, Australia should be there to help.

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