Indonesia: Police chief’s shocking torture admission only tip of iceberg

The confirmation of the use of torture by Indonesia’s security forces by Indonesia’s chief of police is an unprecedented turnaround after more than a decade of stubborn denial of this practice, said Amnesty International today.

In a rare admission, General Badrodin Haiti, the chief of Indonesia’s police, confirmed that members of the elite Detachment-88 counter-terrorism unit kicked an alleged terrorism suspect in the chest, breaking his ribs, and causing his heart to fail.

“General Badrodin Haiti’s unprecedented admission is a major turnaround in the country’s persistent public denial that torture is rife in Indonesia,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Director of Campaigns for South-East Asia.

General Badrodin Haiti’s unprecedented admission is a major turnaround in the country’s persistent public denial that torture is rife in Indonesia.
Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Director of Campaigns for South-East Asia

“For more than a decade we have been publicizing the abhorrent use of torture in the country. This gives a glimmer of hope that the endemic culture of impunity that pervades a police could be starting to crack. Now the government must commission a robust and independent inquiry to determine how widespread such practices have been. There is an urgent need for long overdue accountability mechanisms and new laws criminalizing the use of torture.”

Background

General Badrodin Haiti made the admission to a body of lawmakers who had summoned him to account for the fact that the police’s original claims that Siyono, an alleged terrorism suspect who died in custody, succumbed to wounds sustained during a scuffle.

Amnesty International believes there are numerous cases where the police including the elite counter-terrorism unit Detachment-88, should be investigated for alleged human right violations, including torture.

The Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), which has been pushing for police accountability, said last month that at least 121 individuals have died in custody since 2007 in counter-terror operations.

No credible investigation has ever been conducted, while the police have sought to shield themselves from accountability by making illusionary pledges to investigate themselves. Such practices, which demonstrate a reckless disregard for international human rights law, may be exacerbated by proposed draconian counter-terrorism legislation that allows the police to detain suspects for up to 390 days without having to present them in court