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Jakarta Post

Komnas HAM records eight potential human rights violations by police during pandemic

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, April 29, 2020   /   06:11 pm
Komnas HAM records eight potential human rights violations by police during pandemic Police officers disperse a number of people gathered by a roadside at night in Slawi, Tegal regency in Central Java on March 28. (Antara/Oky Lukmansyah)

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has recorded several potential human rights violations by the National Police that have occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At least eight incidents [with the potential of being categorized as human rights violations] some involving the use of excessive force by members of the police occurred in different regions,” Komnas HAM commissioner Amiruddin Al Rahab said in a statement on Wednesday, as quoted by kompas.com.

The violations, he said, included violence, rights limitations through intimidation and threats, arbitrary detention and criminalization.

Among the incidents was the use of violence against a number of young men, who gathered in one place despite the physical-distancing policy in West Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).

The police reportedly used physical violence, such as hitting the young men on the head and in their faces, despite the young men’s explanation that they had gathered because of difficulties in finding a temporary place to live.

Read also: COVID-19: Police disperse thousands of gatherings nationwide since last week

Other incidents included the dispersal of a meeting of COVID-19 affected victims in the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) office in Yogyakarta and the arrest of three student activists, who were regular participants in the weekly Kamisan silent protest ‒ a protest held every Thursday to demand state action on human rights abuses ‒ for alleged vandalism in Malang, East Java.

Amiruddin also mentioned another arrest of an independent researcher and government critic, Ravio Patra, whose WhatsApp number was alleged to have been used to spread a message of incitement. Later, Ravio claimed that his WhatsApp account had been hacked. Komnas Ham believes the arrest to be a form of criminalization.

Based on those findings, Komnas HAM called on police chief Idham Azis and his members to protect the human rights of the people while conducting their duties. He demanded the police avoid any abuse of power.

“Please avoid any act that involves the use of excessive force or abuse of power, and always uphold human rights in addressing any matters involving the public,” said Amiruddin.

Komnas HAM urged the police to investigate any officer who is alleged to have violated human rights. The commission also asked the government to guarantee freedom of expression and freedom of speech. (aly)