Legal safeguards at the pre-trial stage for detainees virtually non-existent

Jakarta, Nov 23, The visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture found positive steps taken by Indonesia government in the last years to address torture and ill treatment at detention facilities but, according to a concluding statement, revealed that legal safeguards for detainees, in particular at the pre-trial stage, are virtually non-existent.  

  Manfred Nowak invited by the government of Indonesia from November 10-25 to undertake a visit to 24 detentions facilities across Jakarta, Papua, Bali and Central Java and interviewing detainees.

  However, according to the press statement circulated at the end of Nowak’s visit, “The Special Rapporteur regrets that in a number of instances, his unimpeded access to places of detention was compromised including his ability to carry out private interviews with detainees, in contravention of his Terms of Reference”.

  The Special Rapporteur concludes that given the lack of legal and institutional safeguards and the prevailing structural impunity, persons deprived of their liberty are extremely vulnerable to torture and ill treatment.

  In the opinion of Special Rapporteur, detainees are more vulnerable to abuse while in police custody than in prison.

  The practice of torture by police appears to be sufficiently widespread with purpose to extract confessions.

  Nowak said in some visit, he arrived at police stations as tortures were in progress. 

  Types of torture reported and supported by forensic medical evidence include beating by fists, rattan, wodden sticks, hammer and iron bars. 

  Even in some cases, police officers had shot detainees in their legs from close range or electrocuted them.

  In addition, the law allows prolonged police custody, at times up to several months and during which many detainees have no or very restricted access to courts.

  Mr Nowak urged Indonesian Government to speed up the process to include the crime of torture by public official in Penal code with adequate sanctions.

  In general conclusions of the situations in Indonesia, Mr Nowak said “the torture not systematic in the country, but the absence of torture and ill-treatment in a given context is more the incidental consequence if the personal disposition of the management of a given detention place than the result of effective prevention mechanisms.

  But He notes that only a limited number of allegations of ill-treatment and corporal punishment in prisons.

  Mr Nowak will deliver a full report of his visit in Indonesia to the UN Human Rights Council.   

Writer, Arry Raymond

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