INDONESIA: National Commission on Human Rights Must Investigate the Sape Bima Case

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned about an alleged case of crimes against humanity. It took place on 24 December 2011 in Sape Port, Lambu sub-district, Bima Regency, West Nusa Tenggara Province. Based upon investigations, a report was issued by the Commission for the Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KontraS), a national, prominent, human rights organization. It found strong indications that the case falls within the criteria and definition of crimes against humanity, as follows: #1 murders against three local residents (protesters); #2 arbitrary arrest and detention against 38 protesters after a brutal attack by Police in Sape Port; #3 torture and other forms of inhuman treatment against 11 protesters and local residents with a vicious shooting against 36 local residents and protesters. 

So far, the AHRC notes that the Police merely imposed Ethic Punishment (non-judicial punishment) against five Officers of the Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) of West Nusa Tenggara Regional Police Office (Polda NTB). The Officers were lightly punished, receiving between two to three months imprisonment and suspension of rank. Needless to say, this sentence is not equal with the pattern and form of the crime which took place in Sape Port. 

The case has a strong indication of crimes against humanity, considering a Mens Rea Policy, which falls within the criteria for systematic official order. It can be proved by the presence of four Commanders who ordered their subordinates to forcibly attack the protesters and disperse them. The Commanders were: 1. the Chief of Police of Bima City Police Station (Kapolresta Bima), Police Superintendent (AKBP) Kumbul KS, S.H.; SIK was responsible for the Police Officers present at Sape Port; 2. Vice-Chief of Police of West Nusa Tenggara Regional Police Station, Commissioner (Kombes) Martono, who was near the entry of Sape Port to monitor his subordinates; 3. Hundreds of Police Officers who intentionally attacked and shot the protesters using live bullets; the number of protesters was less than fifty with the majority being women. Actually, there was enough time and resources for the Police to approach the protesters in a persuasive manner, but they preferred a repressive approach. 

The pattern and form of the human rights violations that occurred in this case fall within the requirement of Law No. 26 of 2000 on the Human Rights Court, under Article 9 on crimes against humanity. 

#1 Murder 

The vicious shooting conducted by Police officers against the protesters in Sape Port resulted in the death of three protesters. They were Mahfud, alias Saiful (17), Arif Rahman (19) and Arifuddin Arrahman (45). They were shot to death by live bullets. 

#2 Arbitrary Arrest and Detention 

After the incident, a total of 38 protesters were illegally arrested and detained by the Police. They were forcibly transferred to the Police Station and released after a few days. The Police have clearly committed illegal arrests and detentions.

#3 Torture and other Inhuman Treatment 

A total of 13 protesters were victims of torture by Police Officers in Sape Port. The methods of torture were as follows: they were repeatedly kicked in the face, body and feet; they were punched in the face and body; they were beaten around the face and body using hands and rifle butts. 

Six children also became targets of illegal arrest and detention by the Police. It occurred after the forced dissolution of the protest in Sape Port. As with the adults, they were also subjected to torture and ill-treatment before being released on bail. 

Women, too, were targets of this brutal attack. The AHRC notes that, in total, the nine women involved in the peaceful protest became victims of shooting and violence. One of the women, Mrs. Misla from Sumi village, Lambu sub-district was shot and wounded in her left arm and right thigh. Based on information from the victim, she was standing outside the Sape Port area at the time of the shooting. 

Of note is the fact that the Police also violated the Right to Security and Protection for all citizens without exception, as regulated under Law No. 39, 1999 on Human Rights. Under Article 29:

Paragraph 1- Everyone has the right to protection of the individual, his family, opinion, honor, dignity, and rights.

Paragraph 2 – Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the Law. 

Violations of the above mentioned Rights can be proved after the forced dissolution of the protest. The Police carried out a sweeping operation against protesters and villagers who escaped and hid in villages around the port. Villagers were still experiencing trauma and fear a long time after the incident. Moreover, villagers who were shot did not dare go to a hospital because of the sweeping operation being carried out. So, many gunshot wounds become infected because they did not get timely or adequate treatment. 

On January 3, 2012 the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) issued a report on the case of alleged human rights violations in Sape Port, Bima Regency. The report was based on monitoring and inquiries by Komnas HAM under Law No. 39 of 1999 on Human Rights. Komnas HAM recommended six points to be followed-up by other State institutions. None of the recommendations were implemented, mentioning alleged crimes against humanity regulated under Article 9 of Law No. 26, 2000 on the Human Rights Court.

Komnas HAM has ignored the pattern and form of human rights violations in this case. Yet, there is clear evidence that the Police brutally shot against the protesters. The Komnas HAM’s report does not take into consideration the victims of murder, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, including children and women who were also targeted by Police Officers.

Ironically, after Komnas HAM issued their report and up until the present, there is no follow-up on the report. Komnas HAM has clearly refused to set up a Pro-Justitia Investigation Team as mandated by Law No. 26, 2000. Meanwhile, the Police are also reluctant to prosecute the perpetrators in the Criminal Courts. On the contrary, the Police prefer to bring the alleged perpetrators to the Ethic Mechanism. Punishments of the Ethic Mechanism are not compatible with the pattern and form of human rights violations which occurred in this case. The Police clearly avoid Criminal Courts. They prefer to use Ethic Mechanism to avoid punishment and to erase authoritative responsibility.

Taking into account the above facts, the AHRC calls for: the National Commission on Human Rights to re-establish the Investigation Team for alleged crimes against humanity in Sape Port under Law No. 26, 2000. We also insist the Government, in particular President Joko Widodo, to consistently support law and human rights enforcement in Indonesia. It is part of the President’s commitment under Nawa Cita (Nine President Policy), the Presidential Regulation No. 75 of 2015 on Human Rights Action Plan 2015-2019 and the National Mid-Term Development Plan (RPJMN) 2015-2019. Last but not least, the Indonesian Government must show its willingness to eradicate IMPUNITY as declared in the Constitution that the Republic of Indonesia is a State based on the Rule of Law.