KONTRAS: Torture acts are not taken seriously

(WEST PAPUA MEDIA has edited this article for linguistic clarity)

Summary for International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

To commemorate International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (26 June), the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) published an annual report titled, “Torture: Cruel Acts That Are Not Taken Seriously”.  This report is a summary of several torture incidents that received broad public attention (both nationally or internationally) throughout July 2010 – June 2011, especially elaboration of various complaints on torture cases, which were handled directly by KontraS.

The report checks how far the state has implemented human rights standards in their policies and national regulations produced.

KontraS’ advocacy work regarding torture cases are still to become part of the main agenda and needs to be mainstreamed to the public.   This agenda, besides pressuring the state to proactively deliver positive outcomes in human rights protection through policies and regulation reform,  also will provide public education to keep pushing for maximum protections on non-derogable (inalienable) rights, in all spheres of life.

State  “stuttering”  in responding to torture incidents can be seen from the cancellation of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s visit to The Netherlands at the end of last year.  The cancellation was in response to a legal suit submission to  a Netherlands court by activists of South Maluku Republic (RMS) residing in the Netherlands.   The Lawsuit was a legal-political action against Indonesian National Police officers  who tortured alleged RMS activists after a Cakalele dance performed in front of SBY, present with many foreign diplomats and guests during their visit to Maluku in 2007.

The next failure continues at the end of 2010.  Two torture videos circulated freely and widely on Youtube website.  In the short video  shown several people in military uniform are committing brutal and inhuman treatment followed by intimidating interrogation questions.  The SBY regime responded swiftly, confirming torture practice (did occur) in Tingginambut, Puncak Jaya District, Papua Province.   Although in the end, the Military tribunal III-9 (of Military Command District Cenderawasih, Jayapura, Papua) fall short by giving only light sentences to the 7 defendants which were all military personnel.

Beside two case exposed above, KontraS documented at least 28 cases of torture done by Indonesian military and police.   Quantitatively, we believe torture practices have happened even more.   Difficulties occur in monitoring torture acts because often it occurs inside the military and police compound – and due to lack of victim’s courage to report any torture case because the perpetrators are the law enforcer itself.  Cases directly handled by KontraS, among others are:

(1) Torture case of RMS activists in Ambon,
(2) Torture of Hermanus in Maluku,
(3) Torture lead to fatal casualties of Charles Mali in NTT,
(4) Engineered case of Aan Susandhi in Artha Graha.

KontraS also highlighted other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment including caning punishment in Aceh.

In particular, KontraS highlight Komnas HAM capabilities to investigate and uncover the patterns and causal roots of torture, especially of torture cases in conflict area such as Papua.   The degree of seriousness in torture cases often fit the requirement of a pattern that is widespread and systematic, but in several case (such as on the torture video and violence upon Reverand Kinderman Gire cases), torture is framed as an (isolated or) individual case , but is still a serious violation of human rights subject to the international law norm ‘Jus Cogens’.

Komnas HAM neglectfulness in resolving torture cases paves the way for further impunity and lack of respect of victims’ rights. From various complaint reports sent by KontraS together with victims’ family, not a single case has ended up with justice where the perpetrators are given a fair punishment.   These made worse by the absence of reparations toward victims of torture and their families. Those conditions are in line with the small numbers of torture cases resolved fully in trial. Torture in Indonesia is a typically a crime practiced with impunity.

Criminalization of perpetrators of torture must be done under a legal framework,  with respect of human rights, and by ensuring preventions so that similar cases will not repeat in the future.   Therefore, KontraS urge the state to highlight recommendations below:

1. Hasten criminalization of acts of torture – The Indonesian government, especially the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, must draft a special legislation on efforts in preventing and punishing acts of torture. Criminalization of torture will be an important benchmark for Indonesia in fighting future torture practice.   This effort will become an alternative step while efforts to enact a new Criminal Code procedure is yet to be fulfilled;

2. Indonesian Police and Military must have a vetting mechanism in their rank and file (promotions) process, that considers their officers track record as to who has committed torture, in order to further their members professionalism.

3. Police must increase their personnel capacity in conducting investigations and probes, whilst also maximizing effective and deterrent punishment for torture perpetrators. Torture cases continue to occur due to a lack of capacity for adequate investigation technique, thus Police resort to shortcuts in gathering evidence and gain confessions through torture;

4. Indonesian military must improve their internal accountability mechanisms by revising Military Tribunal Bill to ensure acts of torture are classified as criminal acts and receive maximum punishment.

5. National Commission of Human Rights must be able to resolve patterns and causal roots of torture practices, especially those committed by security forces, so they can provide adequate recommendations for relevant state institutions to make strategic policies to combat torture practices;

6. The government must implement recommendations from the UN Committee Against Torture; Follow up results from the country visits of the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak in 2007; and the Universal Periodical Review (UPR) of 2008.

With the election of Indonesia to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the second time, the implementation of those recommendations is an indicator of Indonesia’s seriousness on human rights enforcement.

Jakarta, 26 June 2011

Executive Board

Haris  Azhar

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