Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Indonesia: Proposal to Punish Abusive Police

(Apr. 4, 2016) Members of Indonesia’s House of Representatives, citing a recent case of a terrorist suspect, have proposed that a provision be added to the draft legislation on terrorism that would impose punishment on police officers who abuse their authority when dealing with alleged terrorists. (Punishment for Rights Abusers Should Be Stipulated in Terrorism Bill,’ JAKARTA POST (Mar. 28, 2016).) Amendment of the 2003 anti-terrorism law is listed on the national legislative agenda. (RUU tentang Perubahan atas Undang-Undang Nomor 15 Tahun 2003 tentang Pemberantasan Tindak Pidana Terorisme [Draft Law on Amendments to Law Number 15 Year 2003 on Combating Criminal Acts of Terrorism], Program Legislasi Nasional (2015-2019), No. 43, House of Representatives website (last visited Mar. 30, 2016).)

Ahmad Muzani, who serves on House Commission I, which oversees defense matters, asserted “[w]e want security forces to have more power to prevent and eradicate terrorism. But we also think that they should be punishable if they abuse their power and, for example, violate human rights principles.” (‘Punishment for Rights Abusers Should Be Stipulated in Terrorism Bill,’ supra.) The Speaker of the House, Ade Komarudin, speaking on March 28, 2016, agreed with the basic idea of punishing offending police officers, but stressed that the public should continue to support anti-terror efforts by the police and not allege abuses without strong foundation. He said that people should not let such allegations “discourage security forces from fighting terrorism in the country.” (Id.)

The draft legislation is listed on the legislature’s website as being under consideration by Commission III, which covers legal issues. (Tentang RUU [About the Draft Law], House of Representatives website (last visited Mar. 30, 2016).)

Background on the Case

Indonesia’s Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), in a statement issued March 26, noted that the rights of a terror suspect, who subsequently died, had been violated by a counter-terrorism police unit in the Cawas sub-district of Klaten District in the Province of Central Java. Kontras supported the idea of including provisions on punishment of abusive police officers in the anti-terror legislation and stated that in the Cawas case, the violations included torture of the suspect during interrogation and irregularities in the documentation of the arrest. (‘Punishment for Rights Abusers Should Be Stipulated in Terrorism Bill,’ supra.)

The terror suspect, Siyono, was arrested on March 8, 2016, and died four days later, having been in police custody for the entire time. No clear cause of death was indicated, although the body was found to be covered in blood and bruises when it was returned to Siyono’s family. There is currently a dispute among local officials, religious leaders, and Siyono’s relatives as to whether or not to have an autopsy. General Badrodin Haiti, the Chief of Indonesia’s National Police, has ordered an investigation of the case by the Internal Affairs Division of the Police. (Ganug Nugroho Adi, Klaten Residents Refuse Autopsy for Alleged Terrorist, JAKARTA POST (Mar. 30, 2016).)