FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 17, 2010
An Open Letter to Chief of Indonesian National Police
General of Police Bambang Hendarso Danuri
Chief of Indonesian National Police
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Tel: +62 21 721 8555, +62 21 721 8012
Fax: +62 21 720 7277
CC: United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, Mr. Martin Scheinin, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
INDONESIA: Police act disproportionately in war on terror – unarmed suspects shot dead
According to your statement and reports, three alleged terrorists were shot to death on May 12, 2010 in Cawang, Jakarta by police officers from the special detachment for anti-terrorism (Densus 88). Two others were killed in a raid in the Cikampek sub-district, East Jakarta by the same unit on the same day. According to eyewitness reports the police opened fire against unarmed suspects in Cawang. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is very concerned about the disproportionate us of lethal force in this operation.
AHRC strongly condemns terrorism and its impact to society. Terrorism fosters fear and insecurity in society since it indiscriminately kills innocent people. As any other crimes, terrorism cases should be impartially investigated. The special challenges that advanced terrorist activities present to society have to be countered with a professional and well trained police force. Anti-terrorist units thus have to be subject to full judicial accountability and any violations of victims or suspect's rights have to be investigated pursued according to law.
For this very reason, the AHRC regrets the shooting that occurred in the two locations in Jakarta. The AHRC is in particular concerned about the incident in Cawaang, since the suspects were unarmed and no harmful acts were committed by them at that time of the operation. According to eyewitness reports, one of the suspects had just gotten out of a taxi and was about to meet the other two suspects when four police officers from the Densus 88 unit attempted to arrest the suspect. When he physically resisted the arrest, the police opened fire at him. The two other suspects tried to escape but were caught, beaten and were reported to have been shot to death too. Of the five persons who were killed by police in the course of the two operations on this Wednesday, only two were identified, namely as Saptono and Maulana, who are listed as most dangerous terrorists by police.
These detailed witness reports are very concerning since they indicate a disproportionate use of force beyond necessary means for an arrest and would thus present a violation of the right to life as established in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The police later explained that they had no choice but to shoot the suspects since the suspects "resisted and did not want to be arrested, we did not want to take any risk of officers being killed" (Brigadier General, Zainuri Lubis). However, it is neither clear whether the suspects tried to commit any harmful counter attacks that would have left the police no other choice than to fire deadly shots, nor is any information provided by the police or other evidence available as to whether the suspects threatened public security in an immediate way at the time of arrest. The independent witness present at the shooting location confirmed that the suspects tried to escape and that the only form of resistance to the arrest was to beat the police officers with his arms. The police responded by hitting the suspect with a gun resulting in bleeding. No report suggests that a necessity to fire shots or to fire deadly shots would have arisen.
Terrorism has rightly been condemned by the international community for having cost numerous innocent civilian lives and several countries are trying to counter such inhuman activities including Indonesia. However, protecting public security does not justify the violation of the rights of others as international jurisprudence has extensively ruled. Means used by states to prevent terrorism have to be in accordance with human rights principles and limited to only necessary harm against suspects. State responses to terrorism have to be conducted with full respect to the terrorists' rights as a human being.
The police, in exercising its duties to prevent all crimes including terrorism, has to apply the concepts of 'necessity' and 'proportionality' as enshrined in Article 3 United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials. The shooting of three terrorists in Cawang shows that the police often neglect these principles and tend to commit rash measures in many terrorism cases, which results in the violation of basic rights. In March 2010 alone, five alleged terrorists were shot to death in Aceh, without any reported resistance to the arrest.
In AHRC-STM-047-2010 the AHRC reported about the death of innocent civilians. Kamarrudin and his 14 year-old son, Suheri, were mistakenly suspected as members of a terrorist group based in Aceh. Both victims were shot at by police, which later caused Kamarrudin's death and severe injuries of his son. Several other killings in counter-terrorist operations have been reported from Aceh. (see AHRC-UAC-058-2010)
Several laws and rules which mandate police to respect human rights and act professionally have been enacted in Indonesia, including Law No. 2/2002: Indonesian National Police, Police Regulation No. 8/2009: Implementation of Human Rights Principles and Standards in the Discharge of Duties of the Indonesian National Police, as well as the Code of Conduct for Indonesian National Police Officers. Despite this legislation and several institutional reforms the repeated incidents of police killings show a serious lack of implementation of these standards. Accountability for misconduct is the key to address human rights violations by state authorities, in particular the police.
The AHRC urges you to ensure that an independent investigation regarding the killings in anti-terrorist operations that occurred on May 12, 2010 in Jakarta is conducted. The killings of civilians and suspects in Aceh in February and March 2010 have to be investigated by an impartial unit as well. The AHRC also calls for a reform and professionalization of the police, in particular its anti-terrorist unit. A committed implementation of the new police regulations through internal disciplinary and criminal procedures is necessary to ensure police accountability for the protection of human rights.
Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong
Posted on 2010-05-17