Don't sacrifice Indonesian reforms
Don't sacrifice Indonesian reforms
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Op-Ed / Asia

Don't sacrifice Indonesian reforms

As New Yorkers found out, it makes a world of difference when terrorism hits home. Before the bombs exploded in Bali on Saturday night, most Indonesians and many foreigners were skeptical about U.S. warnings that Al Qaeda operatives were active in Indonesia. After the carnage in Kuta, although there is as yet no evidence or claim of responsibility by any radical Muslim group, the atmosphere is radically different. "This is our World Trade Center," one Indonesian friend said.

In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, the coordinating minister for security, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, told Indonesians in a television interview that the ramifications were enormous: Tourism in Bali will be devastated, the economy as a whole will suffer, and Indonesia's image in the eyes of the international community will be damaged. "The targets of this attack may have been foreigners, but whoever did this is an enemy of us all," he said.

But what will the political impact be? It is important that the government's reaction be tough, but not counterproductive in any of the following ways:

A bigger role for the army. Just as some civil liberties were seriously curtailed in the wake of Sept. 11, the impact of Oct. 12 in Indonesia could be to set back reformists' efforts to assert civilian control over the military. The lack of clarity over whether the police or the army is responsible for internal security has led to deep hostility between the two forces. Last month the army attacked the police in Binjai, North Sumatra, in a battle that left eight people dead.

The Bali bombings could turn the tide in favor of the army, despite the fact that the army special forces remain a possible suspect in a recent ambush in Papua that left two foreigners and an Indonesian dead. A worsening of communal relations. Most Balinese are Hindu, and there has been resentment building for some time against migrants from other parts of Indonesia, most of whom are Muslim. The resentment is economic and social, but if a Muslim organization were seen to be behind the bombings, it could take on a religious tinge as well. Retaliatory attacks on Muslims would be disastrous and must be prevented.

An anti-terrorism law capable of misuse. A draft of the new law, designed to bring Indonesia into conformity with UN Security Council Resolution 1373, has been circulating for months. Last week President Megawati Sukarnoputri sent it back to the Ministry of Justice for changes. The Bali attacks may speed up passage, but they could also lead to a circumventing of some of the legal safeguards put in place at the insistence of reformists, who are worried about a draconian end product that could be misused, as happened during the regime of President Suharto. Increase in unofficial armed organizations. The police and army may well choose to rely on unofficial vigilante groups and political party-linked militias to conduct patrols, monitor the communities in which they live, and report back to the police. Increased vigilance is desirable, but such groups are already a security nightmare in Indonesia. With no accountability, no training and confidence that stems from official backing, they are a social menace whose role is likely to grow as the 2004 elections approach.

Radicalizing marginal Islamist organizations. The assumption throughout Indonesia and abroad is that a radical Muslim group was responsible for the bombing. At the time of writing there is no known evidence to back this up. Nevertheless, the Indonesian government is likely to be far less tolerant of some of the groups that have treated Osama bin Laden with something akin to hero worship. The government has to tread carefully, though, to ensure that it manages the difficult balance between security and basic freedoms of association and expression, and does not inadvertently encourage more extreme behavior.

The Bali bombings are a tragedy, but their impact will be even worse if they are allowed to obscure the need for steady progress toward political reform.

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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