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Jakarta Post

Room for impunity

  • Editorial Board

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, December 19, 2018   /   09:04 am
Room for impunity Police officers walk in front of Ciracas Police station in East Jakarta on Dec. 12. A mob destroyed and burned part of the building and a number of vehicles early on Wednesday. (The Jakarta Post/P.J.Leo )

A week after an angry mob set fire to a police station in the East Jakarta district of Ciracas, nobody has been held responsible, let alone arrested. Several videos of the midnight arson attack have circulated but investigators from both the police and the military have not looked much further into the case.

The Dec. 12 incident is believed to have a link to an assault against a Navy captain and an Army soldier, who is a member of the Presidential Security Detail, by a group of parking attendants outside a restaurant in Ciracas two days earlier.

The police were quick to arrest five of the parking attendants, including a woman, within less than 48 hours after the attendants beat up the military personnel. But they have failed to identify even a single perpetrator of the arson attack after six days of investigation, which unsurprisingly leaves questions unanswered.

Apparently, the police also had no action in mind regarding an incident in which the house of the parents of one of the men who was accused of beating the two Indonesian Military (TNI) members was damaged. The act of vandalism occurred almost at the same time as when the police station was ransacked.

While assault, particularly when resulting in injury or death, is a crime, attacks at police stations and private property are similarly punishable by a jail sentence. The burning of the Ciracas police station is more than just a crime — it is a show of disrespect against the country’s law enforcement. 

Worse still, the incident constitutes contempt for the national justice system, given the findings that the mob went to the police station to take the law into their own hands against five parking attendants who were in police custody for their roles in the assault case.

It is regrettable that the police have dragged their feet in their investigation into the mob attacks, which brings us to the question about who the people behind the act were that makes it so the police appear reluctant to go after them.

It is true that the military police are involved in the investigation, but this should not prevent the police from upholding their independence and professionalism in enforcing the law. There is a clear mechanism in place in the event military personnel are accused of committing a crime, though it will not always satisfy justice seekers.

The longer the confusion lasts, the higher the possibility that the state lets the practice of impunity persist. There is no room for impunity as it is a blatant violation of the Constitution, which ensures equality before the law for all.

The TNI, too, can help the police speed up the investigation if there is evidence that any of its members were involved in the arson attack. Indeed, collaboration between the two is a must given the TNI’s pivotal role in protecting the nation and its citizens.

Failure to cooperate will only confirm allegations of a rivalry between the two ever since they were separated to fulfill the mandate of reforms 20 years ago.