Police have become political tool under Widodo’s watch, says rights group

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Indonesian police 74th anniversary
Indonesian national police 74th anniversary celebrations at Monas in Jakarta on 1 July 2020. Image: Indoleft/CNN

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

The Lokataru Legal and Human Rights Foundation says there are two problems with the Indonesian police which have developed during the era of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration.

These two problems are “politicisation” and “police professionalism”.

“Perhaps it’s still the same as the problem before, particularly during the era of Jokowi’s administration. One of the problems is the politicisation of the police and the second is the problem of police professionalism,” said Lokataru executive director Haris Azhar during a Setroom virtual presentation broadcast by CNN Indonesia.

Azhar said the police today were a result of the democratisation of Indonesia since 1998 and there should have been institutional improvements in the police as an institution.

In the process of their development, however, the police had now become a political tool of those in power.

This was reflected by the different legal treatment afforded to groups who were pro and against the government or those in power.

“Law enforcement is discriminative, targeting groups outside of the power holders. Even if there are reports of cases from outside those in power, it doesn’t automatically mean that they will be followed up. There have been many cases like this, particularly in the lead up to elections,” he said.

Politicisation related to professionalism
Azhar said that this politicisation was also related to police professionalism.

“Because of politicisation in the end they’re not professional. But in the context of law enforcement, providing security, I think we can find a pattern. I’ve long been advocating police affairs,” he said.

Based on his advocacy work, he has found cases which are only dealt with after there is an order from above or it has gone viral on social media.

Not only this, Azhar has also come across cases where investigators ask those making reports for money so that the case would be dealt with quickly.

On the other hand, he has also found police who do work professionally.

“So this [lack of] professionalism is not just the disturbed face of the police in the eyes of the public, but they also betray other officers within the police,” he said.

Speaking on the same broadcast, the head of the National Police headquarters information bureau public relations division (Karopenmas) Brigadier-General Awi Setiyono did not deny that police officers committed violations.

Trying to improve
He said, however, that the police were endeavoring to improve.

“God willing, on the matters raised by Haris related to the handling of cases which have to wait for an order, I think we’re getting there, the police are getting better. We already have monitoring instruments, control functions,” he said.

Setiyono said that the existence of unprofessional police officers was because of the mentality of officers who were easily seduced.

“This goes back to the mentality of personnel, it’s true also that there have been temptations. And up until now on that kind of thing we have never compromised. If we straighten it out, there are many reserve players with us,” he said.

Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Lokataru Ungkap 2 Masalah Polisi di Era Jokowi”.

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