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Indonesia Police, Prosecutors Engaged in Torture: Papua Poll Confirms

January 13, 2012

The Jakarta Globe
January 13, 2012

Indonesia Police, Prosecutors Engaged
in Torture: Papua Poll Confirms

by Agus Triyono

A survey carried out by nongovernmental organizations between July and
September last year showed there was a widespread belief among
respondents in Papua that police engaged in practices of torture.

For the survey, the Jakarta and Papua offices of the Legal Aid
Institute (LBH) spoke to 205 respondents from various fields: police,
prosecutors, customary and tribal leaders, commentators, criminal
suspects and even inmates at Abepura Prison in Jayapura, Papua.

The results showed that respondents identified several institutes as
engaging in torture: the police (61 percent), prosecutors (31 percent)
and prison officials (8 percent).

The findings echo the results of a previous survey by LBH Jakarta, in
which respondents identified police as the main perpetrators of
torture among all branches of law enforcement.

“The Papua survey confirms our earlier findings, with more than 60
percent of respondents identifying police as being engaged in
torture,” LBH researcher Laode M. Syarif said at the announcement of
the survey results in Jakarta on Friday.

He said respondents to the survey also identified the three main
methods of torture employed by law enforcement officials against
suspects and inmates at Abepura: physical, psychological and sexual

“Physical violence includes such acts as grabbing, dragging hitting
and crippling,” Syarif said. “Psychological torture includes
threatening people at gunpoint, while sexual violence includes
disrobing suspects, photographing them in forced intimate poses,
groping and forcing them to perform oral sex on each other.”

He said police resorted to these extreme measures because they were
incapable of getting the information they sought from the suspects in

“It’s the easiest way to get a confession,” Syarif said. “These
practices are carried out in defiance of a directive issued by the
National Police chief in 2009 on implementing human rights standards
and principles during the course of an investigation,” he said.

Syarif sad the survey also indicated key differences in the way better
educated suspects were treated by police. Suspects who had received a
secondary education or higher were more likely to be tortured.

“There are also indications that suspects with an income of Rp 3
million [US$ 326] are less likely to be tortured than lower income
suspects,” Syarif said.

At the end of 2010, an investigation undertaken by LBH Jakarta in
Jakarta, Surabaya, Makassar and the Acehnese towns of Banda Aceh and
Lhokseumawe uncovered proof that police were engaged in acts of

According to that study, Surabaya was perceived as having the highest
rates of torture committed by police, with 93.8 percent of 96 suspects
and inmates claiming torture was most widely carried out by police.

Police responded coolly to the survey. National Police spokesman Saut
Usman Nasution said police respected the LBH’s opinion and would take
steps to look into the matter.

However, he questioned the methods used by the LBH in carrying out its survey.

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