Torture 'routine' in Indonesia

Issue 

The torture of detainees in Indonesia, especially during the first days of detention, is not exceptional. In politically unstable regions like Aceh, East Timor and Irian Jaya (West Papua), torture is routine.

These are the conclusions of a report of a visit to Indonesia by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Professor P.H. Kooijmans, in November. For the first time, the UN in an official document has unequivocally confirmed that torture occurs in Indonesia. Details of the report appeared recently in the Dutch publication NRC Handelsblad.

In a 24-page appendix attached to his annual report to the UN Human Rights Commission, Kooijmans says:

"The Rapporteur cannot avoid drawing the conclusion that torture indeed exists in Indonesia, particularly in cases which are considered to threaten state security."

Besides being a leading UN expert in the examination of human rights abuses, Kooijmans also heads the Dutch delegation to the commission.

In his report, Kooijmans places the blame for these human rights violations on the "virtually unlimited and unbridled power of the police". He says that the police exert unrestricted control over detainees during the first 20 days of detention. This means that it is impossible to deal properly with complaints about torture. He met prisoners who had been detained for more than 10 years without seeing a lawyer.

The report will be tabled at the UN Human Rights Commission which began meeting in Geneva for six weeks from January 27. The Kooijmans report will be of considerable political significance as Portugal, which now chairs the European Community, is planning to persuade the commission to adopt a strong resolution condemning Indonesia for the Dili massacre and the human rights situation in East Timor.
[From TAPOL via Pegasus.]

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