Civil rights groups raise concerns about Jokowi's pick for next police chief

Source – January 22, 2021
Listyo Sigit Prabowo takes part in fit and proper test at parliament – January 20, 2021 (Antara)

Devina Halim, Jakarta – The Security sector Reform Coalition says that there are three problems which need to be addressed when the sole candidate for the next police chief, Commissioner General Listyo Sigit Prabowo, takes over the leadership of the national police.

The coalition is made up of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Amnesty International Indonesia, the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta), the Setara Institute for Democracy, the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) and Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW).

"We are of the view that if these problems are not evaluated then it will be difficult to have democratic policing under the Listyo's leadership", said coalition representative and Kontras Coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti in a press release on Thursday January 21.

The coalition highlighted a statement by Listyo who said that the police will provide a sense of security to investors. This was revealed during a fit and proper test at the House of Representatives on Wednesday January 20.

In relation to this statement, the Coalition believes that this has the potential for the national police to become a tool of the interests of capitalists or certain sections of the elite.

Yet, according to Law Number 2/2002 on the Indonesian Police, the police are an instrument of the state whose role is to maintain security and public order, uphold the law and protect, safeguard and serve the public.

"Moreover, we are concerned that this policy will increase the criminalisation or prosecution of environmental activists who often criticise and oppose corporations which damage the environment", he said.

The Coalition is therefore asking Listyo to ensure that the police remain numeral in responding to the social, political and economic dynamics of society.

The Coalition also criticised Listyo's plan to reactivate the Swakarsa Civilian Security Force or Pam Swakarsa because it has the potential to violate human rights.

According to Maulidiyanti, there was no clarification on the issue of which organisation can be recruited as Pam Swakarsa or limits on the authority of the police to deploy Pam Swakarsa members.

Aside from the potential to violate human rights, the police could also give rise to violent incidents, horizontal conflicts and the misuse of power. "[This must be avoided by] revoking Police Regulation Number 4/2020 on Swakarsa Security", she said.

The Coalition is of the view that continuing incidents of police brutality is because there has not been a thorough evaluation and the minim levels of supervision and accountability. The other reason is the lack of firm punishments, in the form of ethical or criminal punishments.

Thus the Coalition is asking Listyo to conduct an evaluation into the matter.

"Evaluate the excessive use of violence by firmly upholding the law and applying accountability for police officers who commit excessive violence in dealing with mass protest and improve the national police's internal monitoring system", said Maulidiyanti.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has selected Listyo as the sole candidate to replace Indonesian police chief General Idham Azis who is due to retire soon.

After taking part in the fit and proper test Wednesday, a DPR plenary session ratified a decision by the DPR's Commission III to agree to Listyo's appointment as the next national police chief. Listyo will later be inaugurated at a ceremony at the State Palace in Jakarta.


Pam Swakarsa along with Islamic vigilante groups like the now outlawed Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) were setup in 1998 by the police and military to counter student demonstrations ahead of the 1998 Special Session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), which was to hear the accountability speech of former President Suharto's hand-picked successor President B.J. Habibie.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Koalisi Soroti 3 Pernyataan Komjen Listyo Sigit yang Perlu Dievaluasi".]