Markus Junianto Sihaloho
With public trust in the National Police plumbing new depths following a string of devastating scandals, the government is planning to give more clout to the agency that oversees the police.
Minister of Justice and Human Rights Patrialis Akbar said it was necessary to build better communication and coordination between watchdog National Police Commission (Kompolnas) and the National Police.
“The vision is how to build a better system where Kompolnas and the police are part of an integrated system,” said Patrialis, who was speaking after a meeting at the office of the Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto.
“Kompolnas receives hundreds of reports from citizens about bad police performance every month. But we can see hardly any of the complaints being followed up,” he said.
Patrialis said the government would establish a new mechanism where the police will be under the obligation to look into every report submitted to Kompolnas.
“So Kompolnas would hand over all the citizens’ reports they receive to the police — and the police must follow it up with an investigation,” he said.
The commission has no authority to investigate reports about police conduct and it has so far been able to forward only complaints from the public to police internal affairs. Most of them have been ignored.
Civil society activists have criticized Kompolnas for having been ineffective since its establishment in 2005.
Zainal Abidin from the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) said on Monday that the government must bring major changes to the watchdog. Central to reform, he said, should be an expansion of its authority to investigate reports on police conduct.
“It means more authority for Kompolnas, and its recommendations should be respected and followed up by the police,” Zainal said.
The government, he added, must also support the commission by establishing a system where any citizen in any part of the country can complain in the event of any abuse of police power.
YLBHI research found that the majority of violations committed by officers happened at District police offices, Zainal said.
He emphasized that Kompolnas could not be expected to act as a National Police watchdog when its Jakarta office was the only one in the country.
“A new system must immediately be built, to guarantee an easy and instant access for citizens, anywhere in this country, to report any violations by police officers,” he said.