Officials in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, have authorized police participating in a one-month anti-crime campaign launched this week to use deadly force against criminal suspects who resist arrest.
“If there is resistance [from the muggers and thieves], our chief has ordered us to act firmly and quickly [to shoot],” said Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono. “It is not negotiable.”
That’s dangerous advice given that Indonesian police already have a reputation for summarily executing criminal suspects. A University of Melbourne analysis indicated that more than one-third of the total police killings from January to June 2017 occurred after the suspects had surrendered to police. International law only permits lethal force when there is an imminent threat to life.
Yuwono’s sinister rhetoric is reminiscent of the language used by Philippine police officials running President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous “war on drugs.” And that’s no accident – over the past two years several senior Indonesian police officials have expressed support and admiration for Duterte’s anti-drug campaign that has claimed the lives of more than 12,000 Filipinos.
Indonesia’s National Narcotics Agency (BNN) head, Comr. Gen. Budi Waseso, in September 2016 called for Indonesian police to adopt Duterte-style “drug war” methods. Waseso sought to justify such illegal law enforcement tactics by stating that “the life of a [drug] dealer is meaningless.” He reiterated that stance in July 2017 with praise for Duterte’s drug war, saying that it “shows he is taking care of his citizens.” That same week, the National Police chief, Gen. Tito Karnavian, made an explicit reference to Duterte’s campaign when unveiling a new approach to combating drugs in Indonesia: “shooting drug dealers.”
In February, Karnavian awarded former Philippine National Police Director-General Ronald dela Rosa its highest honor, the Medal of Honor. Karnavian praised dela Rosa, who is implicated in possible crimes against humanity for his role in “drug war” extrajudicial killings, for his “rock star-like inspiration to the Indonesian national police” on how to combat illegal drugs.
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo should immediately shut down this Duterte model of crime control, or risk culpability for a mass killing campaign that threatens Indonesia’s still-fragile rule of law.