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Jakarta Post

Komnas HAM accuses police of violence, withheld legal aid in wake of student protests

  • Ardila Syakriah

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, January 9, 2020   /   09:32 pm
Komnas HAM accuses police of violence, withheld legal aid in wake of student protests Students protest in front of the House of Representatives building on Sept. 24. The police tried to block the students as they sought entry into the closed compound in Jakarta. (JP/Narabeto Korohama)

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) claims to have found procedural violations by the National Police in the detention of demonstrators following student protests in September of last year.

University students rallied across the country in September 2019 to protest problematic provisions in proposed legislation. The protests in Jakarta took place from Sept. 24 to Sept. 30 in front of the House of Representatives. Some of the rallies, joined also by members of the general public and senior high school students, turned violent and led to rioting, with five fatalities recorded in Jakarta and Kendari, South Sulawesi, and hundreds injured.

The police arrested 1,489 people during the Jakarta protests and prosecuted 380 of them as of Oct 15, 2019, according to data collected by the commission. 

Komnas HAM deputy chairman Hairansyah said at a press briefing on Thursday that the commission alleged the police had violated the institution's permanent procedures: Protap. 

These violations included the alleged use of violence and force, limiting detained and injured protesters' access to medical treatment, limiting detained protesters’ access to their families and other visitors and limiting legal aid access for the detainees.

"The police have adopted the permanent procedures. The use of violence has been regulated under the procedures [to be applicable] only in urgent cases, such as to protect themselves. It needs to be proven whether their actions followed the regulations and were necessary," Hairansyah said.

The commission concluded that there had been five alleged human rights violations: the right to life – given the fatalities – children's rights, the right to health, the right to justice and the right to feel safe.

The commission urged the government and the police to hold the police or other parties accountable for the casualties through an investigation as the causes of the four deaths remained unknown. Otherwise, history was bound to repeat itself, he said.

"Law enforcement should be equal for all actors, including for law enforcers themselves. This is what has never been done to them. They simply have their ranks lowered instead of facing criminal charges that may have deterrent effects," he told reporters on the sidelines of the briefing.