What Indonesia Must Explain
What Indonesia Must Explain
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Indonesia's Police: The Problem of Deadly Force
Op-Ed / Asia

What Indonesia Must Explain

Less than a month ago, foreigners in Jakarta were wondering aloud whether Jemaah Islamiah was a spent force because more than a year had gone by since a major bombing. A day after the Australian embassy was attacked on September 9, some were wondering whether JI was stronger than ever. The interesting question is not which was closer to the truth. It's why Indonesians themselves were hardly wondering at all.

Terrorism has not been an election-year issue in Indonesia, and stories on JI don't sell newspapers in Indonesia the way they do in Australia and the United States. Most Indonesians have far more pressing things to worry about in terms of their day-to-day existence than when the next explosion might occur, and that's understandable. But even after the bomb attack last Thursday, many Indonesians don't believe that an organization called Jemaah Islamiah exists, and many of those who do aren't willing to admit it in public. Why?

The fact remains that up until now, many Indonesians have seen terrorism as a Western obsession that has driven all other issues off the table. They have tended to see the "war on terror" not as something that Indonesia should join to make the streets in Jakarta safer, but as a thinly disguised plot to safeguard U.S. interests that has led to the persecution of Muslims around the world.

This may have changed after last Thursday, because this time, there's real outrage. There was anger after the J.W. Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta last year, when mostly Indonesian taxi drivers and hotel staff were killed. But it didn't translate into any sense that terrorism writ large was a domestic issue that needed to be tackled with more gusto. If anything, conservative Muslim groups and ultra-nationalists half-succeeded in twisting the issue into one of police persecution of "Muslim activists," with the U.S. as deus ex machina. President Megawati Sukarnoputri's government made no serious effort to intervene to set the record straight, and the Marriott attack passed into history.

This time around, there is both more anger at those responsible and an outpouring of support for Australians, the intended victims. But there's still no real understanding of who the perpetrators are, because the government has never had the courage to spell it out.

We've heard vigorous condemnations of terrorism and violence, but the words "Jemaah Islamiah" have hardly been mentioned by anyone in authority. And if you can't name it, you can't fight it. This is a problem that goes beyond the police tracking down criminals. We aren't dealing with a few psychopaths. We're dealing with an organization -- a large organization -- that may have been so disrupted by the arrests of the past two years that it's broken into several parts, each capable of mounting a low-tech, high-impact operation with one or more suicide bombers. In the short term, its very weakness may have made it more dangerous. Not only may we be dealing with different commands, but we may also be dealing with new kinds of alliances between remnants of some JI cells and other like-minded groups that have nothing to do with JI.

The government needs to explain this to its own people. This is not a problem that's going to go away any time soon, and it's not one that's going to be solved by the purchase of some hi-tech equipment or the passage of a new law. Someone is going to have to think about how to prevent young adults from being attracted to martyrdom and how to channel the energies of would-be jihadists into more constructive pursuits than making bombs. Someone's going to have to convince top religious leaders from across the ideological spectrum that their help is needed to root out jihadism.

Many commentators have pointed to the relative equanimity with which the business community treated this latest blast. But when the next one comes, it could be aimed at a luxury housing complex, a crowded shopping market or a school, and in a way that could send expatriates packing. Almost certainly, most of the victims would again be Indonesians, but the economic ripple effect of a major exodus would cause even more misery for the Indonesians left behind.

Now is the time, while the anger over the embassy attack is still fresh, for the government to spell out to the Indonesian public exactly what it knows about JI, how extensive it is, what expertise it has and what steps are being taken to fight it. This doesn't mean that terrorism has to become an obsession for Jakarta; it just means more focus from the top on an issue that can't be wished away.

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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