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 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 believes there are numerous cases where the Indonesian 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. Indonesia is currently considering introducing draconian counter-terrorism legislation that would allow the police to detain suspects for up to 390 days without having to present them in court.
Amnesty International’s Director of Campaigns for South-East Asia Josef Benedict said:
“General Badrodin Haiti’s unprecedented admission is a major turnaround in the country’s persistent public denial that torture is rife in Indonesia.
“For more than a decade we have been publicising the abhorrent use of torture in the country.
“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 criminalising the use of torture.”
Earlier this week, Amnesty called on David Cameron to raise human rights during the Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s visit to the UK. Amongst other things, Amnesty said that “Trade deals must not be made by the UK government at the expense of condemning the deeply troubling human rights abuses which have taken place under President Widodo’s leadership.”