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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                    

Republic of Indonesia

Military service members accused of crimes against civilians are tried in military courts, which lack impartiality and often impose light punishments. Security forces regularly go unpunished or receive lenient sentences for human rights violations. In October 2019, six police officers involved in the deaths of two student protesters in Kendari received administrative punishments in a disciplinary hearing.

.  [Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Indonesia

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Indonesia.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Indonesia

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 25 July 2021]


NGOs reported that police used excessive force during detention and interrogation. Human rights and legal aid contacts alleged, for example, that some Papuan detainees were treated roughly by police, with reports of minor injuries sustained during detention.

National police maintained procedures to address police misconduct, including alleged torture. All police recruits undergo training on the proportional use of force and human rights standards.

The Commission for Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), a local NGO, reported 921 cases of police brutality reported to it between July 2019 and June 2020, resulting in injury to 1,627 persons and 304 deaths.


Overcrowding was a serious problem, including at immigration detention centers. According to the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, as of January there were 293,583 prisoners and detainees in prisons and detention centers designed to hold a maximum of 133,931. Overcrowding posed hygiene and ventilation problems and varied at different facilities. Minimum- and medium-security prisons were often the most overcrowded; maximum-security prisons tended to be at or below capacity. Prison officials reported that overcrowding was one cause of a February prison riot in North Sumatra.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 17 May 2020]


Military service members accused of crimes against civilians are tried in military courts, which lack impartiality and often impose light punishments. Security forces regularly go unpunished or receive lenient sentences for human rights violations. In October 2019, six police officers involved in the deaths of two student protesters in Kendari received administrative punishments in a disciplinary hearing.

Deadly confrontations between security forces remain common in Papua and West Papua.

Torture by law enforcement agencies is not specifically criminalized. Prisons are overcrowded and corrupt, leading to riots, protests, and jailbreaks. Violence related to natural resource extraction remains a problem. In Aceh, regulations under Sharia permit provincial authorities to use caning as punishment for offenses related to gambling, alcohol consumption, and illicit sexual activity.

Indonesian terror force accused of torture

Australian Associated Press AAP, 8 June 2016

[accessed 8 August 2016]

[accessed 8 August 2016]

The 33-year-old was leading prayer at a mosque in Klaten, Central Java, on March 8 when he was arrested and taken into a black car by two plainclothes Densus 88 officers.  More than four days later, Siyono's family was told he had died and was given money in two thick envelopes by police, the report states.  What happened during these intervening days is a matter of conjecture.   More than four days later, Siyono's family was told he had died and was given money in two thick envelopes by police, the report states.  What happened during these intervening days is a matter of conjecture.  What happened during these intervening days is a matter of conjecture.

On the day he was arrested, Mr Amar told AAP two officers were taking him to a suspected explosives and firearms site when Siyono fought with the policeman who was sitting in the back of the car with him.   A struggle ensued and Siyono was fatally injured.   It was a "procedural mistake", Mr Amar said. The officers had not handcuffed Siyono and failed to have enough people guarding him.

An autopsy organised by Komnas HAM showed Siyono was tortured, the report states, having suffered a broken nose, bruises to the face, blunt force trauma to the head, semi-detached toes and broken ribs.

"There are torture practices in the process of arresting, detention and gathering information in terrorism cases."   According to Komnas HAM around 120 people have died since 2006 while in the hands of Densus 88.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


Widodo’s campaign focused primarily on economic issues, but he made commitments on several of the pressing human rights issues he inherited, including pledges to investigate the enforced disappearance of 13 pro-democracy activists in 1998 in the dying days of the Suharto dictatorship and to lift restrictions on foreign journalists from traveling to and reporting from Papua and West Papua provinces. Those commitments are vague, however, and had yet to be backed by specific directives or policy measures at time of writing.

Newlywed Tortured Following Fabricated Charge of Cannabis Possession

Asian Human Rights Commission, 15 July 2014

[accessed 15 July 2014]

Dany was later brought to Pamulang Sub-District Police Station, where he was beaten prior to interrogation. He was beaten by a man with tattoos named Ucok, who is a cepu (an Indonesian slang for police ‘informant’). The beatings took place on the first floor of the police station. Dany was allegedly beaten on his head. He reeled with pain in his ears, as a result of the beatings.

Dany was then taken to the second floor of the police station, where he was interrogated. Dany insisted that the cannabis cigarettes were not his. This statement resulted in Dany being punched in the forehead by the Head of Pamulang Sub-District Police Drug Unit, Bambang. Ucok was also present during the interrogation. This intimidated Dany further. He could not bear the duress to which he was subjected. Dany buckled under the violent tactics and signed the interrogation transcript.

Police Brutality, Torture Still Rife: Activists

Kennial Caroline Laia, The Jakarta Globe, Jakarta, 28 June 2014

[accessed 1 July 2014]

[accessed 3 January 2019]

During his 32-year reign, Suharto relied primarily on the military to silence his critics. But since the start of the reform era 16 years ago, the military has been stripped of its powers over civilian policing, while the police have only grown in strength — and in their use of violence.

The police were responsible for 80 out of 108 recorded cases of torture of civilians between June 2013 and June 2014, according to a report published on Thursday by the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), a human rights watchdog.

Prison officials were responsible for 18 cases, and the military for 10, the report said.

In all, Kontras said, there were 283 victims: 20 died, 155 were severely injured, and one has gone missing.

The total number of cases is up from 100 in the 2012-2013 period, 84 from 2011-2012, and 28 from 2010-2011.

“Violence has long been a habit for law enforcement officers in this country,” says Haris Azhar, the Kontras coordinator. “For them, the use of violence and torture is like a sanctioned shortcut.”

He says much of the violence takes the form of torture of the victim during interrogation, usually to extract a confession, as in the case of Yeni’s brother.

Trial against victim of torture is ongoing

Asian Human Rights Commission, Urgent Appeals Programme, 24 June 2014 -- Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-095-2014

[accessed 24 June 2014]

CASE NARRATIVE - Lana Teresa Siahaan of Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) informed the AHRC that Zulfikar was taken away of his dorm in Pasar Rumput by six unidentified police officers at 1 a.m on 1 April 2014. He was arrested along with two other men, Zulkifli and Bahar. Zulfikar was blindfolded with black tape and taken to an unidentified location where he was beaten up and trampled on.

Following the arrest, Zulfikar’s sister came to the dorm and inquired from the head of the neighbourhood (Ketua RT) as to where the police had taken her brother. The sister visited three police stations in Central Jakarta to find her brother, yet none of these police stations had any information. Only after she finished visiting the police stations did she receive a phone message from an unidentified number containing the pictures of her brother, Zulfikli, and Bahar. The faces of Zulfikar and Bahar were bruised and swollen, whereas Zulfikli appeared to be unharmed.

The sister visited Central Jakarta District Police for the second time on the same day to find Zulfikar. Yet the police officer in duty claimed that there has been no ‘Zulfikar’ had been arrested or detained in Central Jakarta District Police during the last two days. The family was finally able to meet Zulfikar at Central Jakarta District Police on the day when the arrest warrant was issued on 3 April 2014.

West Papuans 'tortured, terrorised'

Jenny Denton, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Oct 2013

[accessed 6 Oct 2013]

Human-rights researchers affirmed the key finding of the study, which was conducted as part of Dr Hernawan's PhD, that ''torture has been deployed strategically by the Indonesian state in Papua as a mode of governance''. The study says Indonesian forces carried out torture as a public spectacle to achieve ''maximum terrifying impact'' on the civilian population in the Papuan provinces, doing so with ''almost complete impunity''.

Torture included beating, kicking, burning, stabbing, shooting, rape, starvation, forced exercise and public humiliation and was carried out by military personnel and to a lesser extent police officers.

Incidents of torture by law enforcement agencies on the rise

Ina Parlina, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, 29 June 2013

[accessed 29 June 2013]

A study by the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has found that the number of cases of torture committed by members of the National Police, the Army and prison staff is on the rise.

Kontras, which used the same assessment framework used by the Committee Against Torture and the UN Human Rights Council, uncovered 100 incidents in which 225 civilians were allegedly tortured or intimidated by law enforcers during interrogation between July 2012 and June 2013.

The study found that the police were involved in 14 incidents of the total 100 cases, the military in 60 incidents and prison guards in 12 incidents.   Kontras coordinator Haris Azhar said the figure was likely to represent the tip of the iceberg as there was a lack of access to information and the victims often had neither the ability nor courage to report the incidents.

“There has been no serious punishment meted out to law enforcers who commit acts of torture,” Haris told a press conference on Friday.

Rights Commission Warns of ‘Retaliatory Acts’ on Densus 88 Alleged Torture Video

Yeremia Sukoyo, The Jakarta Globe, 3 March 2013

[accessed 3 March 2013]

[accessed 27 July 2017]

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) on Sunday warned of fresh violence in the Central Sulawesi town of Poso and Maluku after the publication of a YouTube video depicting the torture of terrorism suspects.

It shows several topless men, said to be terrorist suspects, bound and lying on the ground, while dozens of other men in the uniforms of anti-terror police unit Densus 88 and the mobile brigade (Brimob) unit yell at the suspects and carry guns.

In the middle of the video, one of the suspects, called Wiwin, was told to walk to the middle of the field and remove his pants. He was then shot in his chest. Police officers ignored his cries of pain and continued interrogating him.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/IDN/CO/2 (2008)

[accessed 1 March 2013]

Widespread torture and ill-treatment and insufficient safeguards during police detention

10.  The Committee is deeply concerned about the numerous, ongoing credible and consistent allegations, corroborated by the Special Rapporteur on torture in his report (A/HRC/7/3/Add.7) and other sources, of routine and widespread use of torture and ill-treatment of suspects in police custody, especially to extract confessions or information to be used in criminal proceedings.  Furthermore, there are insufficient legal safeguards for detainees, including:

(a) Failure to bring detainees promptly before a judge, thus keeping them in prolonged police custody for up to 61 days;

(b) Absence of systematic registration of all detainees, including juveniles, and failure to keep records of all periods of pretrial detention;

(c) Restricted access to lawyers and independent doctors and failure to notify detainees of their rights at the time of detention, including their rights to contact family members (arts. 2, 10 and 11).

As a matter of urgency, the State party should take immediate steps to prevent acts of torture and ill-treatment throughout the country and to announce a zero-tolerance policy on any ill-treatment or torture by State officials.

As part of this, the State party should implement effective measures promptly to ensure that all detained suspects are afforded, in practice, all fundamental legal safeguards during their detention.  These include, in particular, the right to have access to a lawyer and an independent medical examination, to notify a relative, and to be informed of their rights at the time of detention, including about the charges laid against them, as well as to appear before a judge within a time limit in accordance with international standards.  The State party should also ensure that all suspects under criminal investigation are registered, especially children.

The State party should also reinforce its training programmes for all law enforcement personnel, including all members of the judiciary and prosecutors, on the absolute prohibition of torture, as the State party is obliged to carry out such training under the Convention.  Furthermore, it should keep under systematic review interrogation rules, instructions, methods and practices with a view to preventing cases of torture.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015


Police were repeatedly accused of human rights violations, including excessive use of force and firearms, and torture and other ill-treatment. Internal and external police accountability mechanisms failed to adequately deal with cases of abuses committed by police, and investigations into human rights violations were rare.

In March, 17 men from East Nusa Tenggara province were arbitrarily arrested for the murder of a policeman. They were allegedly stripped, handcuffed and beaten in detention for 12 days by the West Sabu sub-district police. Some suffered stab wounds and broken bones. Some were reportedly forced by police to drink their own urine. They were released without charge at the end of June due to lack of evidence.

Indonesian security forces, including police and military personnel, were accused of human rights violations in Papua. Torture and other ill-treatment, excessive use of force and firearms and possible unlawful killings were reported. In most cases, the perpetrators were not brought to justice and victims did not receive reparations.

In June, Mako Tabuni, a Papuan political activist and deputy chair of the pro-independence National Committee for West Papua, was shot dead by police officers in Waena, near Jayapura, Papua province. Police alleged he was resisting arrest. There was no impartial or independent investigation into the killing.

Also in June, soldiers attacked a village in Wamena, Papua province, in retaliation for the death and injury of two of their personnel. They reportedly opened fire arbitrarily, stabbed dozens of people with bayonets – resulting in one death – and burned a number of houses, buildings and vehicles.

In August, police and military personnel in Yapen island, Papua province, forcibly dispersed a peaceful demonstration commemorating the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Security forces fired their guns into the air and arbitrarily arrested at least six protesters. Some were reportedly beaten during their arrest.

Also in August, police personnel from the Jayawijaya District in Papua province arbitrarily arrested and allegedly slapped, punched and kicked five men in an attempt to force them to confess to a murder. No investigation into the abuse was carried out.


In September, the Acehnese provincial parliament announced a delay to setting up an Aceh truth and reconciliation commission. This left victims and their families without an official mechanism to establish the truth about the violations they suffered during the conflict or to establish the fate or whereabouts of their loved ones who were killed or had disappeared.

The President failed to act on Parliament’s recommendations in 2009 to bring to justice those involved in the enforced disappearance of 13 pro-democracy activists in 1997 and 1998, to conduct an immediate search for activists who had disappeared, and provide rehabilitation and compensation to their families.

The government failed to implement recommendations made by the bilateral Indonesia-Timor-Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship, in particular to establish a commission for disappeared persons tasked with identifying the whereabouts of all Timor-Leste children who were separated from their parents and notifying their families.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 2 January 2019]

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Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 2   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 31 January 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 12 May 2020]

A survey conducted by the Hong-Kong based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) in 2008 found that Indonesia had the worst judicial system in Asia. A survey conducted by Transparency International in September and December 2008 found that the total sum paid in bribes within the judiciary is greater than in any other sector, including the police force. The Supreme Court remains the slowest of the country’s judicial institutions to reform despite receiving particular attention from the current administration. Low salaries for judicial officials and impunity for illegal activity perpetuate the problems of corruption, forced confessions, and influence by military personnel and government officials in the court system.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 31 January 2013]

[accessed 4 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law makes it a crime punishable by up to four years in prison for any official to use violence or force to elicit a confession; however, law enforcement officials widely ignored such statutes. Security forces continued to employ torture and other forms of abuse. The government made some efforts to hold members of the security forces responsible for acts of torture. During the year the use of torture to obtain confessions from suspects was most apparent in Aceh and Papua.

Torture was sometimes used to obtain confessions, punish suspects, and seek information that incriminated others in criminal activity. Security forces also allegedly used torture to extort money from villagers. Reliable figures on the number of incidents of torture that occurred during the year were difficult to obtain. Torture used included random beatings, bitings, whippings, slashings, and burnings.

In Aceh Province the Human Rights NGO Coalition reported 80 cases of civilians and no cases of GAM members tortured, compared with 77 civilians and 7 GAM members tortured in 2004. In September 2004 Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported widespread abuse of prisoners in Aceh by security forces, including electric shocks and beatings with wooden beams and gun butts. The government announced it would investigate the allegations; however, at year's end, there were no known investigations.

The Legal Aid Foundation in Papua and Komnas HAM in Papua reported that there were 35 cases of torture by security forces in Papua during the year.

On February 16, 10 Marines reportedly beat 6 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Aceh for being unable or unwilling to supply them with information on the whereabouts of GAM members. In another alleged incident, eight TNI members dragged a 53-year-old village head behind a pickup truck from his village to the nearest TNI post, allegedly as punishment for not reporting that GAM members passed in front of his house on occasion.

On July 14, soldiers allegedly tortured a presumed OPM member by slashing his face and body with a knife and razor and then pouring petrol over his head and setting his hair on fire. On July 22, 14 soldiers allegedly tortured two Papuan civilians over the course of a day. The soldiers reportedly kicked, bit, and punched them. The soldiers then tied up one of the victims and set fire to dried weeds on his back after whipping him.

The government reported no progress in prosecuting those responsible for acts of torture committed in Aceh in 2004 or 2003, including in those cases detailed in reports by HRW and Amnesty International (AI).

There was no new progress in the case of suspected JI member Saifudin Umar, alias Abu Fida, who was found seriously injured in an East Java hospital in August 2004. He claimed to have been secretly arrested and tortured by police, who admitted arresting Abu Fida for helping to hide two JI fugitives; however, police denied torturing him.

According to SIRA, on February 7, soldiers raped a villager in Julok, East Aceh. The local unit commander questioned the victim but there was no information regarding any further investigation. SIRA also reported that on May 6, soldiers raided a house in Kambam, North Aceh in search of a suspected GAM member but when the soldiers found only his wife they interrogated and raped her, reportedly as punishment for her answers regarding her husband's activities and whereabouts.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, " Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Indonesia",, [accessed <date>]