Commissions to probe police torture allegations in regions

The National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the National Police Commission (Kompolnas) are set to probe alleged misconduct and human rights violations committed by police officers in a deadly riot on the island of Tiaka, Morowali regency, Central Sulawesi and the alleged torture of 15 civilians in Abepura, Papua.

Kompolnas member Novel Ali said on Monday the commission would seek comprehensive information on the incidents and kick-off an independent investigation.

“The incidents, particularly the one involving the dead victims in Sulawesi, must be given our most serious attention. Once we finish collecting preliminary information, we will deploy our people to the site for investigation,” Novel told The Jakarta Post.

As a supervisory body, however, the result of the Kompolnas investigation would be “merely” a recommendation for the National Police chief, Novel said.

“We have had routine meetings with the National Police chief so that we can monitor the force if they have fulfilled our recommendations,” he said.

Komnas HAM deputy chairman Ridha Saleh indicated that human rights violations might have taken place in both incidents. “We will initiate in-depth investigations, collect evidence and interview victims and witnesses,” he told the Post in Morowali.

The Tiaka incident broke out on Aug. 22 when more than 100 local civilians jointly went to an oil rig operated by state-owned Pertamina and Medco E&P Tomori.

The locals, mostly fishermen, asked the companies to fulfill their promises to compensate losses to their lucrative fishing grounds where the oil rig now stands.

After a series of past attempts to reach an agreement failed, the protestors turned unruly after the discussions once again became deadlocked.

As the riot broke out, civilians clashed with police personnel guarding the facility. The incident left two civilians dead and six others injured.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam claimed the actions were “necessary” because the civilians vandalized the oil well and its facilities.

“They also attacked and kidnapped police officers and seized the officers’ firearms,” he said.

Central Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Dewa Parsana said the force had detained 19 police officers for allegedly violating the police’s code of conduct when dealing with the riot.

“They will face internal investigations and an ethics tribunal,” Dewa said.

The police had previously detained 22 civilians at Central Sulawesi Police headquarters in Palu.

A week after the Tiaka riot, when Muslims celebrated the Idul Fitri holiday on Aug. 31, 15 people accused of being members of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) were arrested by police officers in Abepura, Jayapura, Papua.

A report by the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said they were arrested on charges of orchestrating a shooting at Nafri village in Abepura on Aug. 1, which resulted in the death of three civilians and a member of the Indonesian army.

Kontras coordinator Haris Azhar said in a press statement that the civilians were “struck with rifle barrels, kicked, cuffed, beaten and stepped on with military boots while handcuffed or tied. As a result, the victims suffered bruising to their faces, bodies and feet.”

National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar said that according to a report he received from Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Wahyono, there had been no evidence of physical abuse against civilians.

“The police only ordered them to lie down on their faces,” he said.

According to Haris, 13 of the 15 people had already been released by police.

“The victims are residents of the Vuria Kotaraja housing complex and members of the Wahno Baptist Church congregation in Kotaraja,” Haris said.

Kontras reported that the police had also tortured civilians who were arrested after the Tiaka riot and left them naked and hungry for several hours.

“The corpse of one of the dead victims, Yurifin, was trampled by Mobile Brigade police officers,” the report said.


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