Jakarta – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) says that the police were involved in 921 cases of alleged violence and human rights violations between July 2019 and June 2020. A total of 1,627 people were injured and 304 died as a result of these incidents.
“Over one year between July 2019 and June 2020, we recorded 921 incidents of violence by the police”, said Kontras researcher Rivanlee Anandar during a virtual press conference held on Thursday June 30.
Anandar explained that this total originated from monitoring conducted by Kontras through the mass media, case assistance and information from Kontras’ networks which were verified as human rights violations committed by the police.
In the report, Anandar highlighted alleged curbing of civil freedoms over this period comprising 281 incidents, with 669 people suffering injuries, three deaths and thousands of people arrested for voicing their views in public.
This alleged curbing of civil freedom took the form of prohibitions on protest actions with 24 incidents, forced dispersals and clashes accounting for 125 incidents, the use of tear gas with 11 incidents and arbitrary arrests with 121 incidents.
“It was very high in 2019 prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. We can remember, in September 2019 there was the Reform Corrupted actions, also in August there were actions protesting racism by people from Papua”, said Anandar.
According to Anandar, the police have a very high level of subjectivity in taking measures against civil freedoms. Yet, he said, there are no strong indicators requiring police to take action against incidents when civil freedoms are being exercised.
Anandar cited the use of firearms by police which is yet to implement National Police Chief (Kapolri) Regulation Number 1/2009 on the Use of Force in Police Actions.
Kontras recorded at least 543 cases of alleged violations in police security actions involving the use of firearms with 683 injuries and 287 deaths.
“Several cases showed that injuries suffered by victims or by alleged perpetrators were shots aimed at vital parts of a victim’s body which are designed not to disable but to kill”, he said.
Furthermore, Anandar said that Kontras is also highlighting new forms of alleged torture by police, namely cyber torture. He gave as an example the case of the alleged hacking of outspoken government critic Ravio Patra’s WhatsApp account and the intimidation of resource people at a Gajah Mada University (UGM) discussion this year.
“In the context of cyber torture, the state or law enforcement agencies have the capacity to do this. Because the instruments that they have are very often used to manipulate information, doxing to injure victims psychologically and mentally”, he said.
Through this report, said Anandar, Kontras is asking the police to evaluate the application of discression by police. Aside from this, that police officers who violate regulations be punished as justly as possible.
Kontras is also asking the police to prioritise persuasive and non-violent methods in handling cases related to the issue of Papua and other civil freedoms by prioritising the protection of public freedom of expression.
National Police (Polri) spokesperson Inspector General Argo Yuwono has yet to respond to phone calls about Kontras’ findings, although earlier Yuwono said that all reports and criticism against the Bhayangkara corps, as the police are known, will of course be welcomed and used as material for future evaluation.
He said that all police officers are furnished with an attitude of professionalism. “Polri carries out its basic duties in accordance with the rules and regulations which are in force”, said Yuwono when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Sunday June 28.
Yuwono said he appreciates outside institutions who conduct monitoring of the National Police’s performance and all violations by police personnel will be acted on in accordance with regulations.
Yuwono explained that in carrying out their regular duties, in principle the National Police are bound by disciplinary law in accordance with National Police Chief Regulation Number 2/2016 and the National Police’s code of ethics in accordance with National Police Chief Regulation Number 14/2011.
In addition to this, there are derivative regulations which apply to police officers’ actions in the field. (mjo/fra)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “KontraS: Polri Terlibat 921 Kekerasan dan HAM dalam Setahun”.]