Special report on practice of torture in Indonesia released

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To mark the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) released an advance version of its special report on practice of torture in Indonesia today.

The report titled: "A facade of justice for torture victims in Indonesia", is the first special report focused on the issue of torture to be published in Article 2 June edition. The report examines actual torture cases, give analyses and comments on the operation of mechanism for remedy and legal redress for torture victims.

The writer Answer Styannes, the ALRC's programme officer and Indonesia Desk officer, examines seven torture cases in period 2005-2013 decided by the courts. In these cases, the court rendered judgements imposing punishment on the perpetrators. In her article, she observes that though there is progress in prosecution of cases; however, the State continuously denies taking full responsibility for them.

The recent cases of torture victims Yusli and Sijunjung, who died in police custody due to torture, are examples in which the courts had sided with the perpetrators. The court accepted the perpetrators' argument claiming the victims' death were not and should not be attributed as the responsibility of the State.

Another article by Styannes, co-written by Era Purnama Sari of the Legal Aid Institute (LBH Padang), focused on the substantial aspect on the question of remedy. This article does not only describe the current legal provisions related to reparation for torture victims and the incompatibility of domestic law with international law, it also examines first-hand information on practical challenges to victims, their family and lawyers in obtaining a restitution order from the court.

Unlike in the past, the issue of torture in Indonesia today is now openly spoken about.

In his article, Muhamad Daud Berueh, an activist working for the Commission for the Disappeared and the Victims of Violence (KontraS), writes that torture was a State policy during the regime of former President Soeharto. Soeharto did not hesitate to sanction the use of torture for social control. Berueh's article discusses the practice of torture; enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings as past human rights violations and the difficulty of obtaining adequate remedy for victims.

In addition to these articles, interviews were also conducted on the torture victims and their family who narrated the story of their quest for justice. In article 'The search for truth is risky and to get justice is not easy', Yeni, the sister of a torture victim, describes how she and other villagers put pressure on the police that led to the punishment of police officers who murdered her brother.

In another interview, Syamsul Arifin, a torture victim from Surabaya, East Java, shared how his experience of torture has had huge impact in his personal life and the difficulties in getting his life back as it was in the past.

The report also includes the summary of over 40 select cases of torture, custodial death and extrajudicial killings from period 2005 to present documented by the AHRC.

The advance version of this report can be downloaded at: SPECIAL REPORT: A facade of justice for torture victims in Indonesia.