Indonesia: Debate over a New Intelligence Bill
Indonesia: Debate over a New Intelligence Bill
Table of Contents
  1. Overview
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Briefing 124 / Asia

Indonesia: Debate over a New Intelligence Bill

Indonesia should put the passage of a controversial intelligence bill on hold until there is a more comprehensive assessment of its security needs.

I. Overview

A controversial bill defining the role and functions of Indonesian intelligence agencies has top priority in the Indonesian parliament. It was originally scheduled for enactment in July 2011 but will now be delayed until September or October. It would be better to put the bill on hold even longer until there is a more comprehensive assessment of security needs and how to address them.

The controversy centres around three issues: whether the State Intelligence Agency (Badan Intelijen Negara, BIN) should have arrest and detention powers; whether wiretapping and other intercepts should require a court order; and how to ensure oversight and accountability mechanisms consistent with democratic governance. The administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is taking the hardest line, arguing for more powers and less oversight than even BIN itself sees as desirable. Human rights advocates and civil society organisations, including hardline Muslim groups, are at the other end of the spectrum, fearing a return to authoritarian practices of the past. In the middle are the parliamentarians who initiated the law with good intentions, most of whom are determined to resist government pressure but feel the NGOs are going too far.

The debate is taking place in a context where the main threats to the Indonesian state are defined as internal: separatism, terrorism and sectarianism. As such, the targets of arrest, detention or wiretapping would be overwhelmingly Indonesian nationals, and many fear that the combination of enhanced powers and weak oversight raises the spectre of a politicised intelligence agency being used in the future as it was in the past to crack down on domestic enemies. BIN rejects these arguments, saying times have changed and there will be no return to abusive practices.

The current bill follows an unsuccessful effort in 2002 to pass a law strengthening Indonesia’s intelligence apparatus. That bill, drafted in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. and a changed perception of the security threat, encountered stiff resistance. The human rights community was worried about backsliding on civil liberties; hardline Muslim groups saw the bill aimed at themselves; and rival agencies, such as the police, saw BIN encroaching on its turf. It was eventually shelved. Subsequent efforts by the government to revive the bill in 2004 and 2006 encountered similar opposition.

The law now under discussion, drafted in late 2010, had a more constructive genesis, as it was the initiative of a few newly elected legislators with intelligence backgrounds who were concerned that BIN was the only major security agency in the post-Soeharto era to lack a supporting legal framework. They wanted better coordination among security agencies, more information-sharing and more safeguards against rogue activities.

Civil society groups were concerned about the historic lack of accountability in BIN, as in other security agencies, and wanted more judicial and parliamentary oversight. They also wanted major structural changes and staffing restricted to civilians, except in the military intelligence body.

In March 2011, the government submitted a list of objections to the draft. It wanted no changes in structure or supervision and argued for giving BIN powers of preventive detention and “intensive” interrogation. A process of bargaining between the government and parliamentarians is underway.

Debate over the bill is taking place, however, as other security legislation is in the works, including a national security bill and amendments that would strengthen the anti-terrorism law. The lack of a coherent blueprint for Indonesia’s security apparatus and the piecemeal approach to legislation may result in worsening the problem of unclear divisions of labour and overlapping responsibilities – quite apart from the problems of the intelligence law itself.

Under such circumstances, there is no good reason for ramming through the intelligence bill. Taking a step back and thinking more about how to balance Indonesia’s security needs with its commitment to democratic values should be in the interests of all concerned.

Jakarta/Brussels, 12 July 2011

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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