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TNI, police join forces to deal with unrest

Jakarta Post - January 30, 2013

Ina Parlina and Margareth S. Aritonang, Jakarta – In what could be seen as a follow-up to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's new security regulation, the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police struck a deal on Tuesday to allow for the military to play a greater role in dealing with communal conflicts.

The TNI and the police signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will allow the military to deploy its personnel to areas deemed to have a high risk of conflict without requiring the consent of the police or officials in the affected regions.

"Every time a military commander thinks that he needs to deploy his troops to an area that has a potential for conflict, he will be able to do so," TNI commander Adm. Agus Suhartono told a press conference at the TNI headquarters in Cilangkap, East Jakarta, on Tuesday. Agus said that the measure would be more effective in preventing conflicts. "This is crucial so that every time the police need our help, we will be able to provide it in time," he said.

In such cases, the military personnel will be under the command of the TNI but if it is the police who call for military assistance, the police will be in charge of the operation and pay logistical costs. Agus pledged that in any deployment military personnel would uphold human rights and troops violating human rights would face court martial.

National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo said that under the MoU security problems could now be quickly resolved as the TNI had a legal framework within which to work. There previously was no legal basis for the military to assist the police.

"We require personnel to handle situations such as demonstrations and [communal] conflicts fast," he said. "Under the MoU we can now request military assistance."

On Monday, Yudhoyono issued Presidential Instruction No. 2/2013, a new regulation aimed at better coordinating efforts to handle communal and social disputes.

The instruction will allow the coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister, home minister, attorney general, chief of police, National Intelligence Agency head, National Counterterrorism Agency head and local leaders to have a line of coordination to effectively handle security problems.

Rights groups have criticized the issuance of the new regulation saying that existing laws could be effectively used to deal with communal conflicts.

On Tuesday, rights activists aimed their criticism at the TNI-police agreement. Coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Haris Azhar said that the MoU could create a chaotic management of security that could lead to more human rights violations.

Haris said that the mechanism for military assistance should be regulated by a law, instead of an MoU. "Because it is an MoU, it is as if the police and the military want us to think that other institutions should not be involved in its deliberation, including civic groups and the House of Representatives," he said.

Al Araf of rights watchdog Imparsial was concerned over possible abuse of the MoU. "After the presidential instruction, now the MoU. Don't make ground rules that only provide a blank check for the military to deal with security problems; it's dangerous," he said on Tuesday. (han)