Subject: Torture 'widespread' by Indonesia Police: Amnesty

Read full report here: amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA21/013/2009/en

Torture 'widespread' in Indonesia: Amnesty

By Stephen Coates – 3 days ago

JAKARTA (AFP) ­ Indonesian police commonly beat and torture people in custody and offer better treatment in exchange for money and sex, Amnesty International said in a report released.

The human rights organisation demanded the Indonesian government acknowledge the problem and end the culture of impunity that allows police to act as if they are above the law in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

The report, "Unfinished Business: Police Accountability in Indonesia", found that the police were particularly brutal to the most vulnerable and marginalised people, such as drug addicts and women.

"Amnesty International's report shows how widespread the culture of abuse is among the Indonesian police force," the organisation's Asia Pacific deputy director, Donna Guest, said.

"The police's primary role is to enforce the law and protect human rights, yet all too often many police officers behave as if they are above the law."

The report cited the case of 21-year-old sex worker Dita, who was arrested in 2006 and described being sexually abused on the way to the police station.

"I was arrested with five or six other prostitutes. On the way to (the station) they were grabbing me and touching me saying, 'You're so young, why aren't you in school?'," she was quoted as saying.

At the station the women were told they could buy their freedom with 100 dollars or with sex.

"Three of the girls agreed to have sex with them. I point blank refused to do either. Our pimps have paid them enough already," she said.

Abuses meted out included shootings, electric shocks and beatings, sometimes for days on end, the report said.

"The suspects often received inadequate medical care for the injuries they received as a result of torture and other ill treatment," Amnesty said.

"In some cases detainees had to pay for treatment after police abused them, and received inadequate medical care from police medical institutions."

The report, based on interviews in Indonesia over two years, said police frequently sought bribes from detainees in return for better treatment or lighter sentences.

"At a time when the Indonesian government and senior police figures have made the commitment to enhance trust between the police and the community, the message is not being translated into practical steps," Guest said.

"Too many victims are left without access to real justice and reparations, thus fuelling a climate of mistrust towards the police."

Most police do not even know of, let alone follow, the force's code of conduct which forbids abuse, she said.

Victims' complaints were not impartially investigated and opened the plaintiff to further abuse, especially if they were still in police custody.

Amnesty recommended the government acknowledge and condemn the problem but no police or government officials attended the launch of the 84-page report.

It is the second report from a major international rights group to condemn torture in Indonesia this month.

US-based Human Rights Watch said on June 5 that torture and abuse of prisoners in a jail in Indonesia's sensitive Papua region is "rampant."

The United Nations has reported that Indonesian police routinely torture and beat suspects in custody.

Indonesia is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture but it has no corresponding law against the practice.

The UN special rapporteur for torture visited Indonesia in 2007 and found that police used torture as a "routine practice in Jakarta and other metropolitan areas of Java".

A decade of political and institutional reform after the fall of the military-backed Suharto regime in 1998 has not left its mark on the police and prison system, analysts say.

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Indonesia police abuse 'ongoing'

Indonesian police are accused of demanding bribes and sex

Indonesian police are still frequently involved in the torture and other abuse of suspects, a new report by Amnesty International says.

The organisation says some cases are directly linked to attempts by police to obtain bribes or sex from prisoners in return for better treatment.

Women, drug addicts and sex workers are among the most vulnerable.

Amnesty says attempts in the last decade to make police more accountable have not stopped widespread abuse.

The London-based human rights organisation says some of the abuses involve shootings, electric shocks and beatings.

'Loved not feared'

Police spokesman Abubakar Nataprawira defended the record of the police, saying: "By 2010 we aim to be an institution loved, and not feared, by the people."

The police say restructuring of the force is still in progress, and that there is a mechanism in place to punish officers who take bribes.

But Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific deputy director, Donna Guest, said the new report showed that abuse was widespread and there was a culture of impunity among the police.

"The police's primary role is to enforce the law and protect human rights, yet all too often many police officers behave as if they are above the law," she said.

"At a time when the Indonesian government and senior police figures have made the commitment to enhance trust between the police and the community, the message is not being translated into practical steps," she said.

One prostitute quoted in the Amnesty report said that after being arrested along with other sex workers in 2006, she was sexually abused on the way to the police station. Once there, she said, the police told them they could buy their freedom with money or sex.

"Three of the girls agreed to have sex with them. I point blank refused to do either. Our pimps have paid them enough already," she said.

The BBC's Jakarta correspondent Karishma Vaswani says Indonesia's police force was previously part of the country's powerful military. But it was separated from the army in 1999, when the military lost much of its influence because of Indonesia's transformation to democratic rule.


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