Indonesian police are still frequently involved in the torture and abuse of suspects and perpetrators are rarely brought to justice, Amnesty International said in a report yesterday.
The London-based rights group recognized attempts in the last decade to make police more professional and accountable, but said these had failed to stamp out widespread problems.
“In some cases, abuses can be directly linked to police attempts to accept bribes from suspects,” Donna Guest, Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific deputy director, told a news conference, adding that those who were unable to pay often received worse treatment.
Even though the top echelons in the government and the police had made commitments to change, this had not yet permeated down to many police officers, Guest said.
The report found that drug users, repeat offenders and women, including sex workers, were particularly vulnerable to abuse.
Amnesty said it had spoken to abuse victims, police officials, lawyers and rights groups over the last two years while compiling the report.
It said that disciplinary mechanisms within the police were unable to effectively deal with complaints over police behavior, while victims often did not know where to report abuses.
Amnesty urged the government to acknowledge publicly the prevalence of abuses and to ensure prompt, impartial and effective investigations into allegations.
Police spokesman Abubakar Nataprawira defended the record of the force of 371,000 personnel.
“By 2010, we aim to be an institution loved, and not feared, by the people,” adding that a police restructuring was still in progress and that a mechanism had also been put in place to punish officers taking bribes.
Indonesia is consistently rated one of the most corrupt countries in the world, which is seen as a key deterrent for foreign investment.
Transparency International Indonesia in January rated the police as the most corrupt institution in the country.