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INDONESIA: Erase Torture: Make Torture a Crime!

Torture is mother of all human rights violations. Torture gave birth to various human rights violations from extra-judicial killing to denial of the right to fair trial. International human rights law posits torture as the highest norm of crimes. Thus, it makes torturer as the common enemy of all mankind (hostis humanis generis).

Physical injuries are not the only mark that left by torture. Apart from that, torture affects mental stability of the victim and often created a post-traumatic mental instability. Torture is recognised as a serious violation of human rights due to the fact that torture subtracts human dignity. The time someone is tortured, instantly at that time his/her humanity is torn apart.

Torture does not recognise its victims social background. It haunts everyone. Before 1998, torture was used as the most powerful weapon of military regime to shut the mouth of any person who is deemed to be subversive or communist. In the aftermath of 1998, rampant practice of torture was happening again. Only at this time it is used by the law enforcers to demonstrate their arrogance and power. Those who are vulnerable and marginalised became an easy target for police and military authority. Minority groups by the account of religion, ethnic, political background, poor urban, fisherman, labour, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and people who use drugs are also vulnerable against the practice of torture.

Eleven years since the ratification of the United Nations Conventions against Torture (CAT) in 1998, there has been no concrete efforts from the Indonesian Government to effectuate the full implementation of the said convention. The Government has not yet categorised torture as an offence under its domestic laws or regulations. The draft of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) indeed already incorporate torture as punishable under the code, however the endorsement of the draft in the mean time is relatively difficult pending the approval from the House of the Representative. Furthermore, the Optional Protocol of the CAT which was scheduled to be ratified in the end of 2008 is remaining to be an empty promise. The particular importance of the OPCAT is that the optional protocol provides a mechanism forprevention at the national level relating to prisoners and relevant domestic institutions. Accordingly, the certainty concerning the ratification of the OPCAT should be regarded as a necessary agenda for the elected government.

Today, 26 June, is the defining moment for the Indonesian Government to demonstrate its commitment to eradicate all human rights violation in Indonesia, specifically with regards to torture. Today is also the most appropriate day for all people in the world, including Indonesia, to pay our tribute to those who endured from torture irrespective where they are. It is also the moment for us to demonstrate our solidarity, to commemorate those who have gone and to salute those who survived, from this unspeakable and unimaginable crime.

The Governments favourable position towards the victim can be started by announcing its responsibility and to ask for forgiveness for all torture practices happened in this republic. Governments respect towards the victims can be manifested in performing reparation as opposed to only financial compensation. Furthermore, actions such as initiation of prosecution of the perpetrators and to assure that such evil practice will not ever happen again are paramount.

The Indonesian Coalition against Torture (JAPI) is of the view that it is time for the governments intention of protecting, promoting and fulfilling human rights violations needs to be reassessed. Therefore, we strongly urge the Government to: 1). Criminalise torture. Determine torture as a crime under Indonesian laws in accordance with the CAT; 2). Ratify the OPCAT without further delay. The failure to execute these two significant steps in a relatively short period of time will definitely prolong the list of victims of torture and substantially increases the climate of impunity in Indonesia.

Jakarta, 26 June 2009



Jaringan Anti Penyiksaan Indonesia (JAPI)
Indonesian Coalition against Torture


AJI Indonesia, Arus Pelangi, ELSAM, HRWG, IKOHI, Imparsial, Institut Pelangi Perempuan, JRK, JSKK, KOHATI PB HMI, KontraS, KPI, Komnas Perempuan, LBH APIK, LBH Jakarta, LBH Masyarakat, LBH Pers, PBHI Nasional, PBI, PMKAJ, STIGMA, UPC, YLBHI, YPKP 65