UPDATE (Indonesia): Court treats torture case as minor offence; police responsible are freed


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAU-060-2008
ISSUES: Administration of justice, Inhuman & degrading treatment, Judicial system, Police negligence, Rule of law, Sexual violence, Torture,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding the case of Mr. Hartoyo who was tortured and sexually abused in January 2007 in Aceh. The Banda Aceh District Court treated this case as a minor offence and let those responsible go free.


Mr. Hartoyo and his partner were assaulted by about 16 civilians while they were at home in Banda Aceh on 22 January 2008. The reason being given is that they were homosexuals.  They were taken to the Bandaraya Aceh Sector Police at about 1:30am on January 23 where they were severely beaten and sexually abused by police officers. (for details, please see UA-068-2007)

Even though this incident took place in January 2007, it is reported that neither a proper investigation has been conducted nor has on-going adequate information been provided to the victim. The Bandaraya Aceh District Police, without notice, summoned Hartoyo to give testimony at the Banda Aceh District Court on October 8, the same day his trial was held.

It is reported that the police investigator earlier indicted the accused under article 170 jo. 422 of the penal code (jointly and openly commit violence against persons or property in relation to making use of it to force a confession). After the investigation process was set in motion, the prosecutor treated the case as a minor offence.

Sugeng Budiyanto was appointed as judge in charge of this case. Investigating officer Brigadier General Sudjono acted on behalf of the Public Prosecutor. The defendants are police officers Rahmat Hidayat, Wahyu Pratama, Wahyudi Saputra and Amrizal.

During the trial, the judge did not examine the perpetrated acts of torture but rather focused on the sexual orientation of Hartoyo. He further advised him to turn away from this sin. He gave the impression that the accused should be allowed to beat and assault the victim on the grounds of his different sexual orientation. In addition, the investigating officer failed to demonstrate exactly how the acts of torture were committed by the accused.

After Hartoyo gave his testimony, all of the accused accepted it without objection. When being asked by the judge to say something to the victim they apologized to him. Examination of the defendants followed and shortly thereafter the judge read out his verdict. The court decided that the four defendants be sentenced to three months’ imprisonment, six months probation and a fine of IDR 1,000 (USD 0.1).

The court gave its reasons for such a light punishment. The perpetrators are police officers who are needed by their country, the perpetrators confessed their acts, both parties forgave each other, and the perpetrators committed a minor offence.

Please write letters to the Supreme Court, urging them to annul the decision and deal with this case as a general criminal procedure. In this way those responsible for the acts of torture will be properly prosecuted and punished.

Please be informed that the AHRC has written separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture, and independence of judges and lawyers calling for intervention in this case.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear ___________,

INDONESIA: Court handles torture case as a minor offence; police responsible are freed

Name of victim: Mr. Hartoyo, 32; local NGO worker at the Matahari Foundation in Aceh
Accused: Rahmat Hidayat, Wahyu Pratama, Wahyudi Saputra and Amrizal from Bandaraya Aceh Sector Police
Trial: Judge Sugeng Budiyanto, Banda Aceh District Court, 8 October, 2008
Date of original incident: 22-23 January 2007 at Bandaraya Aceh Sector Police

I am shocked to learn that police officers responsible for the torture and sexual abuse of Hartoyo at the Bandaraya Aceh Sector Police Station were freed due to improper investigation and failure of a proper prosecution which provides them with de facto impunity. These offenses took place in the early morning of January 23 2007.

According to information I have received, Haryoto with his partner were taken to the police station by the accused at about 1:30am on January 23, 2007. They were made to strip down to their underwear, and were then viciously beaten and verbally abused by the accused. Hartoyo said that the officers forced his partner to perform oral sex on him. When he refused Hartoyo was again kicked and scolded. Then, the victims still in their underwear were dragged to the courtyard in the police station, made to squat on the ground and were sprayed with ice-cold water. When he asked permission to go to the toilet, the officers forced his partner to urinate on Hartoyo’s head.

Addition information has it that Hartoyo was instructed by an officer to introduce himself to the other detainees. When he stated that he was a homosexual, the officer entered the cell and severely beat him. The victims had been denied access to legal representations or to visits by their relatives. Before their release on January 23, they were forced to sign a written statement not to be involved in ‘homosexual actions again’.

When the investigation started, the accused were indicted under article 170 jo. 422 of the Penal Code which requires that the trial be carried out under general criminal proceedings.  But surprisingly, at the trial on 8 October 2008, this case was dealt with under article 352 of the Penal Code, ‘minor maltreatment’ which is only a minor offence.  As you are aware, the right to appeal by the victim is removed once the case is handled as a minor offence and not within general criminal proceedings.

I am informed that during the trial both the judge and the investigating officer failed to show how the acts of torture and sexual abuse were committed by the accused. Besides, the judge advised him to turn away from sin and gave the impression that the accused were allowed to beat and assault the victims on the grounds that they had a different sexual orientation.

Even though all of the accused acknowledged their acts of torture and sexual abuse and accepted the victim’s testimony without objection, they were given light sentences.  Three months’ imprisonment, six months probation and a fine of IDR 1,000 (USD 0.1) The grounds were that the perpetrators were police officers whose services are still needed by the country, who confessed their acts, and who committed a minor offence. In addition, both parties already forgave each other.

I am particularly disturbed that the perpetrators of these acts of torture and ill-treatment received such lenient penalties. They are not in accordance with the grave nature of their crimes. Under these circumstances, I strongly urge you to denounce this trial process as a misleading one. Establish a new trial process which will be carried out under general criminal proceedings. This would ensure that the perpetrators are properly prosecuted and punished according to the law and in accordance with the norms of international human rights.

As shown in this case, lack of access to a lawyer, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention, sexual abuse, improper investigation and prosecution, and lenient penalties constitute de facto impunity for the perpetrators and must be addressed. It will be not only a mockery but a perpetuation of acts of torture and ill-treatment if the perpetrators are not properly punished.

I also take this opportunity to remind the government of Indonesia of the fact that as a member of the UN Human Rights Council and a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Convention  Against Torture (CAT), it has the obligation to take specific actions. These are actions that will reinforce prohibitions against torture and ill-treatment through legislative, administrative, and judicial means. In the end these are the things that will be effective preventions.

Yours sincerely,



Chief Justice Bagir Manan
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara No.9-13, 
Jakarta 10110
Tel: +62 21 384 35 57 
Fax: +62 21 383 541


1. Mr. Hendarman Supandji
Attorney General
Kejaksaan Agung RI
Jl. Sultan Hasanuddin No. 1
Jakarta Selatan
Tel: + 62 21 7221337, 7397602
Fax: + 62 21 7250213

2. Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri
Chief of National Police
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Jakarta Selatan
Tel: +62 21 721 8012
Fax: +62 21 720 7277

3. Mr. Andi Matalatta
Minister of Justice and Human Rights 
JI. H.R. Rosuna Said Kav. 6-7
Kuningan, Jakarta Selatan
Fax: +62 21 525 3095

4. Mr. Ifdhal Kasim
Jl. Latuharhary No. 4B Menteng 
Jakarta Pusat 10310
Tel: +62 21 3925230
Fax: +62 21 3151042/3925227

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.org)