New YLBHI research on police misconduct in Indonesia

The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) has published two-and-a-half-year long research about misconduct among police officers in Indonesia. YLBHI documented 202 cases across Indonesia between January 2019 and June 2021. The violations range from police negligence to severe violations such as torture or extra-judicial executions. 2020 appeared to be a terrible year with 105 such cases – more than 50 per cent of all cases documented throughout the entire research period. The most vulnerable groups among victims of such violations were police suspects and students.

YLBHI identified 17 different types of violations. The most common violations were arbitrary arrests with 85 reported cases, followed by torture, found in 40 of the cases. The criminalisation of persons (36 cases), the non-procedural use of firearms (32 cases) and unlawful dispersal of peaceful protests (29 cases) were also among the most frequent police violations in Indonesia throughout the past years. According to YLBHI, violations concerning the freedom of assembly and expression had particularly raised since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia. 

The YLBHI researchers pointed out another upcoming problem in Indonesia. Many police members are still taking on additional positions in other governmental and semi-governmental institutions, jeopardizing the independence of the police as a law enforcement institution in Indonesia. In 2020, the NGO documented 13 active police officers occupying additional positions in state institutions, state-owned companies, and embassies, including the National Commission for Eradication of Corruption (KPK).

YLBHI recommended, there should be an effective external supervisory to address the problem of police misconduct. In addition, YLBHI stressed the need to reform the Indonesian police and the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code (KUHAP). The revised KUHAP should, among other things, shift more responsibility for cases to the public prosecutors.