Indonesia: Next Steps in Military Reform
Indonesia: Next Steps in Military Reform
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Report 24 / Asia

Indonesia: Next Steps in Military Reform

The first two years after President Soeharto’s fall from power in May 1998 saw substantial changes in the Indonesian National Military (TNI) as it withdrew from direct involvement in political matters. Thereafter reform slowed in the absence of government policy, the TNI’s absorption in security disturbances across the country, and the political crisis that led to the fall of Abdurrahman Wahid from the presidency and the elevation of Megawati Soekarnoputri to that position on 23 July 2001. In an address on 16 August, the day before Indonesia’s national day, President Megawati committed her government to reviving military reform.

Executive Summary

The first two years after President Soeharto’s fall from power in May 1998 saw substantial changes in the Indonesian National Military (TNI) as it withdrew from direct involvement in political matters. Thereafter reform slowed in the absence of government policy, the TNI’s absorption in security disturbances across the country, and the political crisis that led to the fall of Abdurrahman Wahid from the presidency and the elevation of Megawati Soekarnoputri to that position on 23 July 2001. In an address on 16 August, the day before Indonesia’s national day, President Megawati committed her government to reviving military reform.

The presidential crisis showed the dilemma that continued TNI representation in parliament presents. It is impossible to be represented in parliament and at the same time remain aloof from day-to-day politics, especially at moments of high political drama. Inevitably the TNI was  seen to be partisan and thus the integrity of the security forces on the streets was compromised.

This is not to deny that TNI should be deeply engaged in providing advice and assistance with drafting relevant documents but it should not dictate the objectives of the review or its outcomes. There is some concern that in the absence of government policy and with continuing distrust of civilian politicians, TNI has been attempting to control the military reform agenda. For example, referring to the doctrine of total people’s defence in the draft defence law and other legislation, the TNI has begun planning the reshaping of the army territorial organisation. This is a lower order reform that should stem from government policy that determines the future mission, size, shape and organisation of the defence forces rather than being determined by the TNI on the basis of a vague philosophical concept contained in legislation.

The first task of the new government, the legislature, the media and defence interest groups is to monitor the passage of defence legislation to ensure that no time bombs are left that might justify TNI political imperatives or limit government policy options. Effective government leadership is the best hedge against this possibility.

It has been over twenty years since a comprehensive review of defence policy was undertaken. The change of regime, the economic crisis, and the chronic state of the TNI demands a comprehensive review to guide force development, make best use of scarce resources and assets, and reorient it to external defence as internal security imperatives decline. This is an opportunity for government to seize the initiative and regain control of the defence reform agenda.

TNI reformers not only need government policy guidance, they also need to implement reforms that will lead to behavioural changes in the field that are consistent with their declared aspirations. They have gone part of the way by reforming education and training in human rights and rules of engagement but they have yet to impose the penalties for violations of these rules that will force change. President Megawati has committed herself to uphold respect for human rights but it has yet to be seen what this means on the ground, particularly in the troubled provinces of Aceh and Irian Jaya.

Reform of the national and military intelligence organisations will be fundamental to ending their propensity to act independently of civilian political control. Effective intelligence services are an essential element in combating terrorism and internal security challenges but they must be subject to government policy direction and external oversight, and not undermine democratic freedoms. Again, a government review is called for along with legislation to set the ground rules for the operation of the intelligence services, including military intelligence that might be engaged in internal security.

As pointed out in previous reports, no government institution can be reformed in isolation but there is much that can be done in the defence field pending broader reforms that will generate the government funds needed to finance the armed forces. Currently only about a quarter of the defence budget is covered by central government funds. The rest is raised by the military through various legal and illegal means. Without full government funding of the armed forces, declared policy objectives will be distorted by the demands of a diverse band of paymasters.

President Megawati’s commitment to seeking solutions to the various conflicts in Indonesia, if successful, would be an enormous boost to reform across the board, particularly for the military and police. If she is willing to make the concessions necessary to have a chance of success, the international community should be ready to support the search for peaceful solutions to these conflicts.

The scope for foreign assistance for military reform is largely dependent on the TNI’s willingness to commit itself to reform the conduct of its troops in the field. Only then will some members of the international community be able to convince their constituents that they should re-engage with the TNI. Meanwhile, the international community should assist with planning, education and training, and information that might be required to set reform in motion.

Jakarta/Brussels, 11 October 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.

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