Violating Criminals` Rights

  • Font:
  • Ukuran Font: - +
  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The police`s security operation to safeguard the 2018 Asian Games conceivably violated human rights. In their Operasi Cipta Kondisi (Operation: Creating Safe Conditions), the police shot dead scores of suspected roadside bandits-presumably arbitrarily. In the Jakarta capital city alone, throughout July until the beginning of August, as many as 52 bandit suspects were shot, and 15 of that number died.

    Testimonies from family members reinforce the suspicion that a crime against humanity has occurred. The police claimed that the suspects were shot for giving resistance, wresting police firearms, and trying to run away. However, family members maintain that the suspects were apprehended without showing resistance. Moreover, the victims’ bodies show no signs of physical struggle-only bullet holes in their chests and backs.

    Roadside muggers are real cause for anxiety. They do their deeds wherever they wish, often sadistically. Not a few victims of roadside muggings have suffered serious wounds, some even dying as a result, for having fallen from their moving vehicles because their bags or cell phones were nabbed by force. 

    Nevertheless, the arbitrary killing of suspected robbers without a verdict from a court indisputably falls outside the law. It is a violation of human rights. It reminds us of the New Order regime’s policy back in the 1980s. Then a similar undertaking took place with the infamous mysterious marksmen, known as "petrus". During that period, people would often stumble upon a corpse left lying on the roadside. At times they had been shot merely because they sported tattoos on their bodies. "Petrus" gripped the public in real fear meanwhile roadside crimes continued unabated.

    Initially, the Ombudsman of the Republic of Indonesia has requested an investigation into the perceived extrajudicial killings of the roadside bandit. To date, the request has not been honored. However, later on, the Ombudsman conversely made a statement that the police had acted according to the procedure, with no adequate explanation. In the interests of clarity, it would be best if the Profession and Security Division within the Police Headquarters investigate the case and make a clarification to the public.

    The Human Rights Commission also needs to conduct an independent investigation, because there are strong indications that, from the outset, the operation was designed to be harsh with a propensity for disregard of human rights. Jakarta Regional Metropolitan Police Chief, Inspector General Idham Azis, openly commanded his subordinates to have no hesitation in shooting dead suspected roadside robbers who show resistance. A shoot on sight order was also made by Indonesian Police Chief, General Tito Karnavian.

    It is this instruction that purportedly incited an escalation of the murder of bandits down to the regions. Amnesty International Indonesia has noted, since January to August, throughout Indonesia, police have shot dead more than 70 roadside robber suspects. The entire number of killings have had no satisfactory accountability follow-up.

    The police ought to be very aware, killing suspected perpetrators of crimes is also a criminal act and is in direct transgression to the very existence of the police force itself. It is not the duty of the police to kill criminals, but to arrest, detain, and bring them to court.

    There are many causes behind an act of crime: from the perpetrator being poor to the psychological makeup of the person. Crime cannot be expunged using firearms alone. Instead of giving the shoot on sight order, the chief of police would be far better off improving the competence and professionalism of his force, upgrading police patrol and enhancing supervisory protection. Placement of CCTV cameras in problematic spots in many large cities have proven to decrease the crime rate. Combating crime with a crime will only shew forth new acts of violence and brutality in the community.

    Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine