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Four lawyers organisations protest against police bill

Republika - August 19, 1997 (Summarised posting by Tapol)

Four lawyers organisation, the legal aid institute, YLBHI, the Association of Indonesian Advocates AAI, the Indonesia Bar Association (Ikadin) and the Association of Legal Advisers (IPHI) have called on the leadership of Parliament to postpone discussion of the draft Police Bill.

Discussions of the bill have failed to involve the community and have taken place behind closed doors. 'The ideas behind the bill need to be discussed openly, involving the universities, professional organisations and the public at large,' they said in a statement.

They were unable to meet the chair of Parliament, Wahono who refused to see them but met a leader of the PPP group. The lawyers, pleaded with the parliamentarian to postpone discussions, but were told that this would be extremely difficult because of the pressures of time. [The present Parliament is under orders to adopt the bill before it is dissolved at the end of September. The Parliament has several other bills to adopt, including the highly controversial Labour Bill. TAPOL.]

Although the draft has now be amended to exclude an article that would have allowed police to use violence during interrogations, the lawyers organisations said they felt this revision was insufficient. 'A number of very basic problems still remain,' said Bambang Widjajanto, director of the YLBHI.

These include the need for greater limits to the powers of the police which are far too excessive, while the public has no way of exercising control over the force. It is far from adequate to rely upon the police code of ethics, pre-trial hearings and the role of superior officers to exercise control over police authority.

The bill also only focuses on human rights violations committed by the general public, without focusing also on the abuses committed by officials. The lawyers also want the police to be removed from the Armed Forces (ABRI) because of the basic difference between the philosophy of the police and the army. The role of the police is to protect and defend the community while the military has the task of dealing with enemy forces.