Indonesia: Overhaul Of Security Crucial – Analysis


By Jaya Ramachandran

A major overhaul of security alone is likely to halt violence in Indonesia’s Papua province in the short term, says the prestigious International Crisis Group in its latest report. Titled Indonesia: Dynamics of Violence in Papua, the report scrutinizes multiple sources of conflict in Papua, following fifteen violent incidents in the provincial capital Jayapura in May and June 2012 and others in the central highlands.

“Everything suggests that there is going to be more trouble in Papua unless the government can produce a policy that will have an immediate and visible impact on how ordinary Papuans are treated,” says Cillian Nolan, Crisis Group’s South East Asia Senior Analyst. “Changing how security forces are trained, redesigning incentive structures, penalising excessive use of force, improving accountability and tightening auditing procedures could make a major difference.”

The report underlines that recent violence has exposed the lack of a coherent government strategy to address the many dimensions of conflict in Papua. Too often well-intentioned programs designed to build trust or produce concrete benefits are undercut by security initiatives to combat separatism or rent-seeking by police or soldiers in resource-rich areas.


It adds: The problem is aggravated by the lack of functioning political institutions. An ineffectual caretaker governor appointed in July 2011 has left the provincial government in limbo, with elections repeatedly postponed as Papuan politicians challenge each other in court. Local government at the sub-provincial level is often even more dysfunctional.

The Crisis Group believes that hopes are fading that a new coordination unit for Papua established in late 2011 – the Unit for Accelerated Development in Papua and West Papua, known by its Indonesian abbreviation UP4B – will be able to make much difference in the short term.

In fact, the idea of a dialogue on Papua, which seemed to be gaining traction in Jakarta earlier in the year, seems to have foundered as it becomes clear that Papuan groups and Jakarta-based officials have very different interpretations of what the word “dialogue” means. All of this means that the so-called “new deal” for Papua that the government of President Yudhoyono announced in 2007 is a long way from realisation.

“In stressing the need for a change in security policy, Crisis Group is not suggesting that police and soldiers are the only source of violence; many, indeed, have been victims,” says Jim Della-Giacoma, Crisis Group’s South East Asia Project Director. “But if the aim is to improve the political dynamics, the security sector may offer more hope for ‘quick wins’ than economic development projects.”


The report released simultaneously in Brussels and Jakarta asks the Government of Indonesia to develop a more integrated policymaking mechanism on Papua at the national and provincial levels. Such mechanism, it says, must ensure that programs designed to deliver concrete benefits to Papuans and build trust are not inadvertently undercut by decisions or actions taken in home affairs or by intelligence and security agencies;

The report also calls for creating a more unified security reporting mechanism under the Papuan regional police commander to ensure that elements of the military and intelligence apparatus do not undertake operations that report only to Jakarta and are not coordinated with other relevant authorities in Papua.

It also pleads for not restricting strict oversight of programs to the development sphere but encompassing security policy, including examination of income-generating programs of the security forces. Papuan perspectives should be included, either by participation of elected governors or the head of the MRP, stresses the Crisis Group.

The Indonesian National Police, the report urges among others, should improve dissemination of and training related to Implementation of Human Rights Standards and Principles in Carrying Out Police Tasks, with particular attention to prohibiting any form of torture and inhumane or humiliating treatment, even in the face of an order from a superior or extraordinary circumstances.

The police are also asked to review policy on use of live ammunition with a view to restricting its use to specific situations and ensuring an adequate supply of non-lethal equipment for handling civil unrest. Furthermore the polices should

– Ensure that police are fully equipped with protective body equipment when assigned to insecure areas or when facing civil unrest so as to reduce the incentive to shoot first.

– Reassess training needs, to ensure that anyone posted to a particular kabupaten (district) in Papua receives a thorough and detailed briefing from those who have served in the area about local conditions, conflict dynamics and relations with local government and community leaders, and that anyone finishing a tour of duty undergoes an equally thorough debriefing so that knowl­edge and lessons learned can be institutionalised.

– Redesign allowances and incentive structures so that police are rewarded rather than penalised for taking posts in isolated and difficult areas and encouraged to build stronger links with local communities.

The Indonesian National Army and the Indonesian National Police should:

– Make a clear commitment to ending impunity for inappropriate use of force and torture and to enforcing more credible sanctions against individuals responsible for such behaviour in a visible and public manner so that Papuans can see that justice is being done.

– Ensure in particular that there is a policy – rigorously implemented – of zero tolerance that begins in police and military academies for kicking, beating with any instrument including rifle butts or other forms of physical violence in the course of detention, interrogation or on-the-spot punishment for alleged offences.

– Make clear that “emotion” can never be used to justify excessive use of force, especially in reacting to attacks by Papuan groups.

– Provide more systematic oversight and scrutiny of income and expenditures in district and sub-district-level commands, particularly in those close to mining sites, with a view to ending illegal levies on the trans­port of goods and services.

The Crisis Group urges the Unit for Accelerated Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B) to work with the provincial and district-level governments in Papua as well as ministries at national level to identify gaps in implementation of special autonomy legislation and develop strategies for addressing them.

The National Elections Commission (KPU), says the report, should in light of the Constitutional Court’s upholding of the practice of voting by acclamation (using the noken system), work with the provincial-level elections commission (KPUD Papua) to develop clear guidelines that will ensure tabulating these votes includes at least minimum standards against electoral fraud and conduct increased voter education efforts accordingly.

Also Papuan Provincial Legislators and the Elected Governor, when one is in place, should give top priority to enacting the some two dozen regulations necessary to ensure that special autonomy is fully implemented.


IDN-InDepthNews offers news analyses and viewpoints on topics that impact the world and its peoples. IDN-InDepthNews serves as the flagship of the International Press Syndicate Group

One thought on “Indonesia: Overhaul Of Security Crucial – Analysis

  • August 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    A UN sanctioned referendum enforced by the Security Council will show that the Papua people( Melanesian) and not keen on Indonesia ( Malay)culturally different.Papua people should have the right to rule themselves!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *