Indonesia: Prison Reform Can Counter Terror Risks
Indonesia: Prison Reform Can Counter Terror Risks
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Op-Ed / Asia

Indonesia: Prison Reform Can Counter Terror Risks

In light of the Jakarta bombings, much has been made of the hundreds of radical Muslims who have been released from Indonesian prisons after serving sentences for terrorist activity. Does the danger of a new attack grow with these releases?

It is risky to assume the answer is yes, because then the solution would be to keep people locked up indefinitely with some Indonesian version of an internal security act. Instead, it would be useful to focus on post-release programs for prisoners and look at ways to determine who should be considered high-risk and how to ensure that they receive special attention once they are free.

As examples, we can look at four men recently released who might be categorised as high-risk for different reasons. One was a top Jemaah Islamiah leader; one was an impressionable youth who threw himself into defending the faith; one was a drug dealer who was radicalised by JI cellmates; and one was a close assistant of Noordin Top, the man believed to be behind the July 17 bombings.

The first is Thoriqudin, alias Abu Rusdan, who effectively took over from Abu Bakar Bashir as JI emir in 2000 and formally assumed the position in April 2002. Arrested a year later on charges of harbouring Mukhlas, one of the Bali bombers, he was sentenced to 3½ years in prison in February 2004 and released in late 2005. He did not co-operate with the police "deradicalisation" program, but he did make it clear that from his understanding of Islamic law, targeting civilians is wrong.

He is opposed to democracy and committed to the application of Islamic law but has become a force for moderation within JI. His message is not one of tolerance but it is very much against indiscriminate violence, and his early release probably has been beneficial.

The second is a young man who idolised those who gave their lives for Islam. He went to Ambon, the site of intense Christian-Muslim fighting, in 2000 at the age of 19 as a member of Mujahidin KOMPAK and returned with a desire to avenge Muslim deaths there. When Noordin Top was looking for partners in the Australian embassy bombing, this man served as a courier, delivering messages between Noordin and KOMPAK leaders, who in the end refused to take part. He was arrested in 2005, sentenced to seven years in 2006 and released three months ago.

Once in prison, however, he eagerly responded to the chance to turn his idealism to a different purpose. Police let him take an online business course, and he is now running a microcredit program for poor villagers under close supervision.

The third, Safrizal, was a recidivist drug dealer from Aceh who was jailed for the second time in 2004. He was put in a cell with the head of JI-Medan, whose bank robbery in May 2003 was meant to help fund the first Marriott bombing, except that the robbers got caught before the money could be used. Safrizal was released in 2007, thoroughly indoctrinated. He started a small Islamic school in a village in Bireuen, Aceh, and on May 12 robbed a bank with a gun he had borrowed from another JI cellmate who had been released about the same time. He was never inducted into JI, but he went into prison as a small-scale marijuana dealer and left as a jihadi.

Finally, there is Budi Bagus Pranoto, alias Urwah, the man who introduced Noordin to the men who became the field operatives for the embassy bombing. Urwah was arrested in July 2004, before the attack took place, and was released in March 2007. He immediately started a video production company, repackaging al-Qaeda material on CDs with Indonesian subtitles. He re-established connections with Noordin, and in early 2008, delivered a letter from Noordin to a man who himself was arrested shortly thereafter and revealed the communication during his trial. By any measure, Urwah was likely to be a post-release problem.

But it is unlikely that even someone as unreconstructed as Urwah would be used in a bombing operation because the risks would be too great.

Former prisoners have been exposed and could well be under surveillance; they surely would be considered liabilities. Such men, however, can play a role in recruitment and indoctrination, and Urwah was an active advocate of "jihad by the pen", disseminating Indonesian translations of jihadi exhortations.

From these four cases, it is clear that draconian legal solutions allowing indefinite detention would be misguided. Indonesia rightly has prided itself on upholding the rule of law in handling terrorist prisoners. The commitment to bringing suspects to trial quickly in fully open courtroom sessions has been a welcome contrast to counter-terrorism practices in many other countries. What Indonesia needs now is a system that can identify the potential problems and distinguish the Abu Rusdans from the Urwahs, in terms of JI prisoners; channel idealistic young jihadis into more constructive activity; and understand that some ordinary criminals, like Safrizal, can be converted inside.

The vast majority of released jihadi prisoners are more like Abu Rusdan and the young credit manager than they are like Urwah and Safrizal, but a thought-through corrections program, before and after release, can help counter-terrorism efforts. Indonesia has been working on prison reform, and some important advances have taken place, although much more needs to be done.

The danger of new attacks remains, but good prison management can reduce the likelihood of releases being a factor.

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.

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.