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Amnesty International: Open Letter On Torture and Other Human Rights Violations by the Police in Indonesia

April 7, 2012

Amnesty International
April 4, 2012

Ref: TG ASA 21/2012.005

Index: ASA 21/014/2012

Amir Syamsuddin
Minister of Justice and Human Rights
Ministry of Justice and Human Rights
Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said Kav No. 4-5
Jakarta Selatan 12950

Dear Minister,

Open Letter On Torture And Other Human Rights Violations By The Police
In Indonesia

We are writing at this time to raise our concerns about human rights
violations committed by the police in Indonesia. Amnesty International
has received ongoing credible reports of torture and other cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (other ill-treatment). We
highlight below some recent cases that have occurred over the last

These reports point to the fact that the findings in Amnesty
International’s 2009 report Unfinished Business: Police Accountability
in Indonesia (Index: ASA 21/013/2009) are, unfortunately, still
relevant in 2012. The report concluded that the use of torture and
other ill-treatment by police officers during arrest, interrogation
and detention was widespread in Indonesia and that police
accountability mechanisms were too weak or ineffective to combat
impunity within the police.

In order to bring an end to such practices, we urge you to take the
lead in ensuring prompt, independent, impartial and effective
investigations of these reports. The results should be made public.


Two men, Sun An Alang, aged 51, and Ang Ho, aged 34, both of Chinese
ethnicity, were allegedly tortured by the police in North Sumatra
province between 2 and 16 April 2011 and forced to sign a confession
that they were involved in the killing of two men on 29 March 2011.

Sun An Alang was arrested on the morning of 2 April 2011 by six armed
plainclothes police officers from the Asahan District Police. The
officers did not have an arrest warrant. On 1 April Ang Ho was
arrested at a hotel, also without an arrest warrant, by four armed
plainclothes police officers from the Medan Metropolitan City and East
Medan Sub-district Police. According to Ang Ho, he was sexually
assaulted following his arrest – one of the police officers stripped
him and ejaculated on his buttock. Ang Ho was then taken to the East
Medan Sub-district Police Station where police officers hit his face
and body and burned his hand with cigarette butts. Under international
human rights law, the way in which Ang Ho was reportedly treated
amounts to torture, as it was intentionally inflicted by officials,
clearly with some punitive and/or discriminatory purpose, and caused
severe pain and suffering, both physical and mental.

In the evening of 2 April, the two men were transferred to Police
Mobile Brigade (Brimob) Headquarters in Medan where they were put in a
room, handcuffed, and their eyes and mouths covered with a black
cloth. There, around 20 Brimob officers took turns beating, punching
and kicking each man’s chest, head and buttocks. The two men were then
threatened with further ill-treatment by the officers if they did not
sign the Police Investigation Report (BAP) confessing that they killed
two men on 29 March 2011. Both men signed a confession.

They were then transferred to the Medan Metropolitan City Police
Headquarters the following day where they reported further torture
every night between midnight and 4am until 16 April. Police stripped,
slapped, punched, kicked and stepped on them. The officers also poured
cold water on them at night. Although they requested access to their
own lawyers, this was denied by the police who instead assigned a
lawyer to them. The lawyer was not present when the Police
Investigation Report (BAP) was signed but nevertheless, according to
both men, he signed the document that he had represented them during
the interrogation. They were subsequently charged and tried for murder
(Article 340 of the Indonesian Criminal Code, Kitab Undang-Undang
Hukum Pidana, KUHP) and sentenced to life imprisonment.

A report was filed by a human rights lawyer about the allegations of
torture to the internal affairs division (Propam) at the National
Police Headquarters in Jakarta on 24 February 2012. Amnesty
International is not aware of any independent investigation into these


Yusli, aged 23, from Bogor, West Java province died after being
arrested and allegedly tortured by police from the Cisauk Sub-district
Police, possibly as a result of the torture.

On 26 December 2011, at about 3am, three plainclothes police officers
arrested and handcuffed Yusli, without an arrest warrant, and dragged
him into their car. His father-in-law, who was present, attempted to
chase the car but was not successful. His family then visited several
police stations in the vicinity to look for Yusli but could not locate
him. On the same day, the Mekarsari village head in Bogor district
informed the family that Yusli had died and that his body was at the
Kramat Jati hospital in West Jakarta. He reportedly gave the family 2
million Indonesian Rupiah (US$ 220) and also asked them to sign a
piece of paper stating that they would not question the nature of
Yusli’s death. The family rejected the money and refused to sign the

When the family arrived at the hospital the following day, a man
reportedly approached them and introduced himself as a member of the
Cisauk Sub-district Police. He informed them that officers from the
Cisauk Sub-district Police had arrested Yusli and that when he
attempted to escape, the police shot him. The man did not inform the
family the reasons for the arrest. When they saw Yusli’s body, they
found injuries on his head, lacerations on his face, cuts on the right
side of his chest and a bullet wound on the left side, and bruises on
his chin, hands and body. Suspecting that Yusli may have been beaten
to death, they reported to the Tangerang City Sub-district Police
Station on 27 December 2011 that he had been murdered.

On 2 January 2012, the family also reported the case to the internal
affairs division (Propam) at the National Police Headquarters in
Jakarta. On 31 January, they were informed that the Jakarta Metro Jaya
Police were investigating the case. According to the family, they were
told by the police that on 16 January they had questioned four
suspects. The family were denied access to a copy of the medical
report (visum et repertum) prepared by Kramat Jati hospital. On 20
February police informed the family that the medical report stated
Yusli’s death was due to the bullet wound but did not give them a copy
of it. No progress on the case has been reported since.


Rahmatullah, aged 28, was allegedly tortured or otherwise ill-treated
by the police and then charged with committing theft and rape in 2010,
a charge which he denies.

Rahmatullah was arrested without a warrant on 18 August 2011 by four
police officers from the Jember District Police in East Java province.
During his arrest the police reportedly hit his mouth with a pistol
handle and shot his right knee. He was then taken to Jember District
Police Station where police inflicted cigarette burns on his stomach
and hands and told him to confess to a series of thefts, which he
refused to do. He was charged on the same day with theft of a
motorcycle and a rape (Articles 365 and 285 of the Indonesian Criminal
Code) that occurred in 2010 in Badean village in Jember district.
Rahmatullah had initially been a suspect in that case in 2010, but
subsequently three other people were tried, convicted and sentenced
for the crime. It is not clear why he was charged with these crimes in
2011 after three other people were convicted of the same crime.

Rahmatullah did not have a lawyer with him throughout his
interrogation by both the police and Public Prosecutor’s office. A
lawyer was then assigned to him by the judge after the case became
public. Amnesty International has also received credible reports that
Rahmatullah’s charge sheet was altered by the prosecution during the
trial, violating Article 144 (2) of the Indonesian Criminal Procedure
Code.1 On 14 March 2012 he was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment
by the Jember District Court. Both the rape victim and one of the
three sentenced for the crime have reportedly stated in court that
Rahmatullah was not involved in the crime.

Amnesty International has received information that two police
officials from the Jember District Police were detained for 21 days
after internal disciplinary proceedings found them guilty of not
adhering to arrest procedures and for the shooting of Rahmatullah.
Moreover, he has not received any medical attention for the bullet
wounds from the shooting.

Amnesty International is not aware of any independent investigation
into his alleged torture by the police.


Two brothers, both children from Nagari Pulasan village, Sijunjung
district in West Sumatra province were allegedly tortured and killed
in a police lock-up on 28 December 2011.

Faisal, aged 14, was arrested by the Sijunjung Sub-district Police on
21 December for allegedly stealing from a charity box at a mosque.
When his mother and brother visited him the following day, his legs
were wrapped up with a plastic sheet and his buttocks were bruised. He
reportedly told his family that police had beaten him with wooden
sticks. His brother Budri, aged 17, was arrested on 26 December for
allegedly stealing a motorcycle.

On 28 December 2011 police informed their family that both boys had
been founding hanging in the bathroom of the Sijunjung Sub-district
Police Station lock-up. The police initially reported the deaths as
suicide. When the family came to the police station to collect the
bodies, they were asked to sign a document saying that they accepted
the police explanation as to the nature of the two boys’ deaths and
would not question it further. Signing the document was a
pre-condition for them to be able to view and retrieve the bodies of
the two boys. The family reluctantly signed the document. When they
took the bodies back to their home, they found indications that they
may have been beaten in detention. Faisal’s face and thighs were
swollen, his nose had fresh blood, his toes were broken and there were
bruises all over his body. Budri’s head and thighs were also swollen,
his right hand, toes and jaw were broken and there was a cut below his
left knee.

After the case was taken up by a legal aid organization, LBH Padang,
police conducted an internal investigation and found nine police
officials from the Sijunjung Sub-district Police Station guilty of
“negligence in failing to prevent the suicides”. They were handed down
disciplinary punishments of 21 days’ detention, demotions and delayed
pay increments. However, the West Sumatra Provincial Police denied
that the officers had tortured the two boys and initially refused to
hand over a copy of the autopsy report to the family.

An investigation by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM)
in January 2012 found indications that the boys had been tortured from
the day there were arrested. Although three of the officers involved
have since been charged with “maltreatment” under Article 351 of the
Indonesian Criminal Code, no one has been charged in connection with
the deaths of the two boys. There are also concerns that the 2002 Law
on Child Protection (No. 23/2002) was not used to charge the police
officers despite both the victims being children.


Amnesty International recognizes the challenges involved in policing
in Indonesia. However, in the cases outlined above, the police appear
to have violated the rights to life and to freedom from torture and
other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The
provisions protecting these rights are non-derogable under the
International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
(concerning both rights), and the UN Convention against Torture and
Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT)
(concerning the right to freedom from torture and other
ill-treatment). Indonesia is a state party to both treaties.

The right to life must be respected at all times. The ICCPR provides
that “[e]very human being has the inherent right to life. This right
shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his
life” (Article 6.1).

As a state party to both the ICCPR and the UNCAT, Indonesia has
undertaken a legal obligation to prohibit torture and other
ill-treatment in all circumstances. The Indonesian Constitution and
the Law on Human Rights (No. 39/1999) also provide for the right for
all people in Indonesia to be free from torture and other

Moreover, in some of the cases described above, individuals were also
reportedly arbitrarily arrested without arrest warrants, denied access
to legal counsel, and detained and tortured or otherwise ill- treated
by police officers.

The ICCPR clearly provides that “[n]o one shall be subjected to
arbitrary arrest or detention” (Article 9.1) and that “[a]nyone who is
arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for
his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him”
(Article 9.2). According to international law and standards, everyone
has the right to legal counsel of their choice during detention, and
in all stages of criminal proceedings.2

The Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code (Kitab Undang-Undang Hukum
Acara Pidana, KUHAP) also requires that arrest warrants be shown to
the suspect or given to family members (Article 18) and guarantees the
rights to contact and be assisted by legal counsel (Articles 57.1 and

The Indonesian authorities also have an obligation under national and
international law to provide medical treatment to all prisoners in the
country. Article 17 of the Indonesian Government Regulation No.
32/1999 on Terms and Procedures on the Implementation of Prisoners’
Rights in Prison requires the prison authorities to provide adequate
access to medical treatment. International standards also provide for
medical treatment for prisoners. The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the
Treatment of Prisoners provide that prisoners needing treatment not
available in the prison hospital, clinic or infirmary should be
transferred to an appropriate institution outside the prison for
assessment and treatment.

Medical reports should be made accessible to detainees or prisoners
wishing to complain of ill- treatment, as stated in Principle 26 of
the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons Under Any
Form of Detention or Imprisonment. Further, as stated in Principle 34,
whenever the death or disappearance of a person occurs during his
detention, an inquiry into the cause should be held by a judicial or
other authority. The findings of such an inquiry should be made
available on request, unless doing so would jeopardize an ongoing
criminal investigation. The UN Principles on the Effective Prevention
and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions
also require that “[t]here shall be thorough, prompt and impartial
investigation of all suspected cases of extra-legal, arbitrary and
summary executions, including cases where complaints by relatives or
other reliable reports suggest unnatural death in the above
circumstances” (Principle 9).

We believe that one of the reasons why cases of torture and other
ill-treatment continue to occur in Indonesia is the failure to revise
the existing Criminal Code. The Indonesian Criminal Code has yet to
incorporate the crime of torture based on the Article 1.1 of UNCAT,
thus failing to meet Indonesia’s obligations under Article 4 of the

The Committee against Torture in its 2008 Concluding Observations also
raised concerns about “the absence of appropriate penalties applicable
to acts of torture in the Criminal Code, qualified as ‘maltreatment’
in Articles 351 to 358 of the code” The Committee called on the
Indonesian government to “ensure that all acts of torture are
punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their
grave nature, as set out in paragraph 2, article 4 of the

Amnesty International is also concerned by the lack of sufficient
safeguards within the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code against
torture and other ill-treatment. Contrary to Article 15 of the UNCAT,
there is no provision which clearly excludes the use of statements
obtained as a result of torture. It is left to the discretion of the
judge to determine whether or not evidence allegedly obtained under
torture is admitted, and if it is admitted, what weight to give to it.
The judge does not have the authority to order an investigation by an
impartial authority into an allegation that evidence or testimony was
obtained under torture or other ill-treatment.4

Weaknesses in both internal and external police accountability
mechanisms also contribute to this culture of impunity. Investigations
into reports of police abuses are rare, and when they do occur, police
often subject complainants to further intimidation and harassment.
Current internal police disciplinary mechanisms are inadequate to deal
with criminal offences amounting to human rights violations and are
often not known to the public. Furthermore, external police oversight
bodies do not have the adequate powers to bring to justice those
responsible for human rights abuses.


Amnesty International calls on the Indonesian authorities to:

– Ensure prompt, thorough, and effective investigations by independent
and impartial bodies into all reports of torture and other
ill-treatment by police, and ensure that those suspected of
involvement, including persons with command responsibility, are
prosecuted in proceedings which meet international standards of
fairness, and that victims are provided with reparations;

– Ensure that no one is subjected to arbitrary arrests, that detainees
have prompt access to their families and legal counsel of their choice
and to a court and access to medical care;

– Ensure that medical records indicating alleged torture and other
ill-treatment and other abuses of detained persons are made available
to the victim and/or the victim’s family and legal counsel;

– Ensure that all police officials are familiar with the Regulation of
the Chief of the National Police regarding the Implementation of Human
Rights Principles and Standards in the Discharge of Duties of the
Indonesian National Police (No. 8/2009);

– Review the current accountability system to deal with suspected
human rights violations by police officials and set up an independent
police complaints mechanism that can receive and deal with complaints
from the public. This mechanism should have the power to submit its
findings to the Public Prosecutor;

– Revise and enact at the earliest opportunity a new Criminal Code and
a new Criminal Procedure Code that comply with international human
rights law and standards, and that include provisions explicitly
prohibiting acts of torture. The definition of torture in the revised
Criminal Code should be consistent with Article 1.1 of the UN
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment;

– Ensure that the new Criminal Procedure Code explicitly prohibits the
admissibility in courts and any other proceedings of any evidence
elicited as a result of torture or other ill-treatment, except in
proceedings brought against the alleged perpetrator as evidence of the
torture or ill- treatment; and

– Ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture
and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, so that
a system of regular visits undertaken by independent international and
national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty
is established.

We urge your office to look into these concerns as a matter of
priority and we hope to hear from you regarding our inquiries as soon
as possible.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions. We
would be pleased to discuss this matter with you.

Yours sincerely,

Donna Guest
Asia-Pacific Deputy Director

Cc: General Timur Pradopo
Head of the Indonesian National Police

Inspector General Drs. Herman Effendi
Head of the Division on Professionalism & Security (Propam)

Drs. Ronny Lihawa
Secretary of the National Police Commission (KOMPOLNAS)

Ifdhal Kasim
Head of the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM)

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