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Indonesia's Military Culture Has to Be Reformed
Indonesia's Military Culture Has to Be Reformed
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Op-Ed / Asia

Indonesia's Military Culture Has to Be Reformed

Originally published in International New York Times

Despite the continuing turmoil in Indonesia, foreign governments have quietly been reviewing their ties to the country's military. They have a real dilemma.

The United States, France, Britain and Australia all hope to maintain some level of influence with Jakarta, and to help the troubled nation and its military move toward reform.

On the other hand, there is the often glaring pattern of human rights abuses by the Indonesian military. I am one of those who has to acknowledge, as Australia's foreign minister at the time, that many of our earlier training efforts helped only to produce more professional human rights abusers.

Almost all military training and arms sales to Jakarta ended as a result of the violence and destruction that the military helped perpetrate in East Timor after the overwhelming vote by East Timorese for independence in 1999. Since then, more signs of social disintegration have appeared in other parts of the archipelago. For weeks, a presidential crisis has been paralyzing the political system.

Secessionist or communal violence remains a major threat to security in several provinces, particularly Aceh, Irian Jaya and Maluku. The military and police have not performed well in any of these places.

The European Union lifted its ban on arms sales only four months after September 1999. France led the sales push, followed by Britain. Australia, which was never a major arms supplier to Indonesia, is likely to limit any assistance to noncombat areas. Even at the lowest points of the political confrontation over East Timor, Australia maintained, for reasons that I can well understand, a skeleton military relationship with Indonesia. In its 2000-2001 budget it allocated military aid of $2.38 million for Indonesian officer education, noncombat training and maritime and air surveillance.

The Bush administration wants to expand military training programs and has undertaken an overall review of its military assistance policies toward Indonesia. The results of this review have yet to be made public. Any major shift in U.S. policy would send important signals about Washington's perspective on the future of Indonesian mili- itary reform and the role of the military in Indonesian society. Unfortunately, Indonesia has not taken effective measures to bring to justice members of the armed forces and militia groups against whom there is credible evidence of human rights abuses in East Timor and Indonesia itself. Several investigations have been started. Charges have been pressed against a number of lower-ranking field officers, but convictions have been few. None involve senior officers, and a general culture of impunity still exists within the armed forces and among militia leaders. Several officers who held command positions in East Timor in 1999 have received promotions. Six Timorese arrested in connection with the killings in September of three staff members of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in West Timor received sentences ranging from 10 to 20 months in what the UNHCR quickly labeled "a mockery." Human rights abuses continue in Aceh, Irian Jaya and elsewhere in Indonesia.

Other problems are more deeply structural. Indonesia's armed forces are built around a territorial structure that deploys forces throughout the country more or less shadowing the civil government. It is estimated that only 25 to 30 percent of the military's funding comes from the government budget. The military must raise the rest on its own.

This desperately corrupting dynamic has severely distorted the capacity of the Indonesian armed forces to operate in anything approaching a satisfactory relationship with the government and society they are supposed to serve.

Changing the way the military is financed and thereby producing a genuine security budget will be one of Indonesia's most difficult internal reforms.

While it is probably too much to expect anyone to provide direct budgetary support for the military (although the World Bank should certainly consider this), outside players can have a constructive role here.

First and foremost, the United States and other donors should insist that providing any future assistance or training be predicated on the Indonesian government making the military's entire budget and expenditures a matter of public record. Such transparency is a bare minimum to be expected from any modern military operating in a democratic system.

Other useful short-term barometers for providing assistance could include progress on accountability for human rights abuses. This should be monitored throughout Indonesia, including Aceh and Irian Jaya, and not only focused on past activities in East Timor. Large-scale sales or transfers of arms from the United States are not justified until Indonesia shows major improvements in stemming human rights abuses. Exemptions for spare parts for some existing equipment should be judged on a case-by-case basis.

Some modest training programs could be resumed if the Indonesian government demonstrates progress toward reform and accountability. Officer training programs can help, particularly those focused on creating a new military culture and in particular instilling respect for civilian control.

Most importantly, international military ties with Indonesia must be viewed through the wider optic of reform facing the central government in Jakarta as a whole. The Indonesian military does not operate in a vacuum.

Efforts to reform the security services will not succeed unless accompanied by credible efforts by the government to combat corruption, decentralize power, promote the rule of law and bring much needed transparency to all public institutions.

Op-Ed / Asia

Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force

Originally published in The Interpreter

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.