Indonesia: Natural Resources and Law Enforcement
Indonesia: Natural Resources and Law Enforcement
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Report 29 / Asia

Indonesia: Natural Resources and Law Enforcement

The exploitation of Indonesia’s natural resources since the 1960s has brought economic benefits to the country, but it has often damaged the natural environment and society in resource-rich areas in a way that fosters social tensions and has led to violent conflict.

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Executive Summary

The exploitation of Indonesia’s natural resources since the 1960s has brought economic benefits to the country, but it has often damaged the natural environment and society in resource-rich areas in a way that fosters social tensions and has led to violent conflict. Indonesia needs to manage its natural resources in a way that is fairer and more sustainable than in the past.

The exploitation of resources like timber and minerals during the rule of President Soeharto was dominated by companies connected to the regime elite. Though formally legal, this exploitation was often heedless of local communities and the environment and permeated by official corruption and rule-breaking. It created the conditions for violent conflict in forested areas like Central Kalimantan, where a culture clash between indigenous Dayaks and ethnic Madurese immigrants led to a massacre of more than 500 hundred Madurese early in 2001 and the expulsion of thousands more from the region.

Indonesia now has an opportunity to develop a less damaging model of resource management, but instead there has been a rapid upsurge of illegal resource extraction across the country since 1998. The major forms of illegal extraction are logging, mining and fishing, and they can be organised by licensed companies who violate the law or by “wild” operators who act outside it. All of these damage the environment, deprive the state of revenues and raise the spectre of future conflict. In the case of logging, the problem is so serious that it threatens to destroy some of Indonesia’s largest forests within a decade.

The illegal resource industry is protected and sometimes even organised by corrupt elements in the civil service, security forces and legislature. It plays on the resentments of poor people who feel they were excluded from natural wealth during the Soeharto era but, like the legalised exploitation of the past, it mainly benefits a small circle of businesspeople and corrupt officials. It is thus a problem of governance and crime, not only of the environment.

The Indonesian government has committed itself to dealing with illegal resource extraction and, in the case of logging, has come under heavy pressure to do so from foreign donors and lenders and from the NGO movement at home. Although reformist officials have made some gains recently, the government is still a very long way from turning the tide. This is  because of the vast geographical scale and complexity of illegal resource extraction, and  because of the complicity in illegal activities of many officials and legislators.

The problems begin with the state agencies responsible for regulating resource use. Although they contain some honest and dedicated officials, corruption and apathy run deep. In the case of the security forces, the profits drawn from the illegal resource trade are a major source of operational funds as well as personal wealth. Coordination between state agencies is often poor and a further level of complexity has been added by decentralisation, which has encouraged some local officials to resist directives from Jakarta and even to impose taxes on illegal logging and mining. There are scattered signs of hope, however, notably in the firmer line being taken by the Department of Forestry against illegal loggers.

NGOs and foreign donors have worked with local communities in some resource-rich areas, trying with mixed results to persuade them not to take part in unsustainable extraction. Some community members are worried about the negative impacts of such extraction. However, the lure of quick profits is powerful and there is a widespread lack of awareness about long-term impacts, which can include erosion and deadly floods in the case of logging, pollution from mining and loss of stocks with fishing. The influence of corrupt officials and business interests at the local level is also strong, meaning that change in attitudes is unlikely to be rapid.

As well as tackling the perpetrators and backers of illegal resource extraction, the government needs to address the sources of demand. In the case of timber this means downsizing the Indonesian wood products industry, which grew so big in the economic boom of the mid-1990s that it now consumes far more than can be legally supplied by Indonesia’s forests. State agencies which view this industry from a purely commercial perspective, notably the Department of Trade and Industry and the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency, need to appreciate that if it is not scaled back, it could deplete its remaining sources of domestic raw materials, with ruinous results.

Countries which consume Indonesian resources also have a major responsibility to deter the import of illegally-extracted commodities. In the case of timber, governments and companies in Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia and the West all need to take more action. Malaysia, in particular, should crack down on massive cross-border trade in illegally-felled Indonesian timber.

Few experts believe that ending illegal resource extraction in Indonesia will be an easy or a rapid task given the scale of the problem and its deep roots in official corruption and patronage politics. There is much pessimism that the tide can be turned on logging before irreparable damage is done to the forests. However, the efforts of reformist officials and local NGOs suggest that, if the government can find the necessary political will to overcome vested interests within its ranks, it is not too late at least to curb the scale of the damage and preserve some of Indonesia’s natural assets for future generations.

Jakarta/Brussels, 20 December 2001

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.