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Police quick to prosecute activists, slow to deal with police violence: Kontras

Kompas.com - July 1, 2022

Rahel Narda Chaterine, Jakarta – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) says that the police often discriminate in the way they handle particular cases.

One example of this, according to Kontras legal division head Andy Muhammad Rezaldy, was in the way the police handled the case of human rights activists Kontras Coordinator Kontras Fatia Maulidiyanti and Lokataru Foundation Director Haris Azhar.

"For example, if we look at cases of police violence or torture the handling or investigation or criminal investigation of these cases is not done quickly. It was different in the case of Fatia and Haris", said Rezaidy during a press conference on a year of reporting marking the 76th Anniversary of the Bhayangkara Corps – as the police force is known – at the Kontras office in Jakarta on Thursday June 30.

Azhar and Maulidiyanti have been declared suspects on charges of tarnishing the reputation of Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Panjaitan.

Yet, according to Rezaidy, Azhar and Maulidiyanti were only expressing a view and exposed the real situation taking place in Papua during a discussion which was uploaded on Azhar's YouTube channel.

"But other cases such as police violence like the cases during the Reformasi Corrupted [demonstrations in 2019], cases of demonstrations, and other cases of torture, they encounter obstacles and there's no progress", he said.

In addition to this, Kontras documentation and research division member Rozy Brilian also explained that there were 21 cases of criminalisation by police against human rights activists between July 2021 and Jun3 2022.

This, according to Brilian, often happens when activists try to defend the rights or environment of traditional communities.

"In the context of criminalising human rights defenders, there were 21 incidents of criminalisation which occurred over the last year, which resulted in 40 people being injured and 97 arrested", said Brilian.

He added that there were four other human rights defenders who were intimidated and terrorised. The impact of this was that human rights defenders become afraid of expressing themselves.

Brilian believes that the police should remain neutral and are not allowed to take sides when handling a case. "This proves that human rights defenders are in a vulnerable position and need special protection from the state", he added.

In the same report meanwhile, Kontras also noted that there were 677 incidents of violence committed by the police. Out of this total, at least 59 people died, 928 were injured and 1,240 arbitrarily arrested.

"We found that in the period July 2021 to June 2022 there were 677 incidents of violence by the police", said Brilian.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Kontras Duga Polri Lebih Cepat Tangani Kasus Fatia dan Haris Azhar Dibandingkan Kekerasan Aparat".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2022/07/01/11010561/kontras-duga-polri-lebih-cepat-tangani-kasus-fatia-dan-haris-azha