Optimism rises after the tsunamis
Optimism rises after the tsunamis
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Op-Ed / Asia

Optimism rises after the tsunamis

International relations optimists are usually seen as incorrigibly naive, if not demented. But 2005 may just prove to be the year that made optimism respectable, with co-operative internationalism recovering traction, unilateralists losing ground, the United Nations and regional organisations getting their acts together and some conflicts and crises turning the corner.

Some of the necessary elements are already in place. The UN's 60th anniversary and associated summitry give us the formal occasion for a fundamental rethink of collective security. Last month's report of the UN High Level Panel on security threats sets a clear agenda for the necessary institutional and policy change. And evidence of the need for change is all around us, from Darfur and Iraq to North Korea.

What has been missing is a catalyst to bring all the ingredients together, to generate real global momentum for change - and make it harder for those countries and their political leaders lacking real will for change to resist it.

The Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, with its extraordinary international response, may well play that role. This has been the world's first truly global catastrophe, dwarfing any other single event in the emotion and support it has generated and demonstrating graphically that we are indeed one human family, ever more susceptible to common risks and with a shared responsibility to tackle them.

The trick will be, as immediate emotions fade, to harness the sentiment for change. There are some positive signs in the conflict areas most affected by the tsunamis. In Sri Lanka, although recent reports suggest relations are again fraying, both government and Tamil Tiger leaders have expressed an apparently sincere determination to find common cause in the country's reconstruction.

In Indonesia, the most encouraging news I heard while visiting Jakarta last week was that the Acehnese were overwhelmed by the outpouring of emotional and financial support from fellow Indonesians - with all that implies for diminution of separatist sentiment. The less encouraging news was that hardline elements in both the military and resistance movement seem inclined to continue their armed struggle. If talks are to resume - and now is the perfect time - the new government must show real leadership and international pressure must be exerted, strongly if subtly, to ensure it.

On a wider front, the hope is that the tsunami disaster will give new impetus to a generally more co-operative and less unilateralist approach to solving the world's security problems, both man-made and natural, and greater recognition of the benefits of deploying more assistance, persuasion and empathy, and less military force: more soft power, less hard; more Ukraines and fewer Iraqs.

The big question is whether any of this will butter any parsnips in Washington. The signals at the moment are not all bad. Life is a learning experience, even for neo-conservatives. And the appointment of the highly capable and pragmatic Robert Zoellick as deputy to Condoleezza Rice, the incoming US secretary of state, is good news indeed. Multilateralists can help the US become more enthusiastic about embracing co-operative internationalism by making their arguments more nuanced. Not every security problem has a UN solution. When it comes to urgent disaster relief operations, such as the kind mounted in Aceh by Australia, the US, Singapore and Japan, there was every reason for the initial response to take that direct form (but also for the UN to take over longer-haul co-ordination, as it now has).

Similarly with conflict resolution: every situation has its own dynamic, and its own best institutional solution. When it comes to negotiating a way through the North Korean or Iranian nuclear standoffs, or toward the longed-for Palestinian settlement, or facilitating peace talks in Nepal, the critical roles may need to be played by individual countries, small groups of them, regional organisations, or non-government mediators, not necessarily acting under UN auspices.

Again with institutional effectiveness generally: multilateralists do no service to the cause by loving intergovernmental structures while leaving them inefficient and ineffective. They must acknowledge that the UN's secretariat, many of its agencies and most regional organisations, are ripe for far-reaching reform.

That said, the bottom line must be universal and unequivocal acceptance of the UN charter as setting the ultimate rules of international behaviour, particularly concerning the use of force, whether in self-defence or defence of others. As the UN panel insisted, if there are weaknesses in the present collective security system, the task is not to seek alternatives to present institutions but to make them work better.

The evidence since the cold war is that co-operative security efforts do bear fruit. For all that has so often gone wrong with Security Council decision-making and with peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations, there have been in the new century so far just some 20,000 to 30,000 people each year suffering violent deaths in wars within and between states - as compared to more than 200,000 a year through most of the 1990s. That is more lives now being saved each year than were lost in the tsunamis. And it is within our capacity this year to create the conditions for doing much better still.

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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