Sunday, February 25, 2024 | 06:54 WIB

Nukila Evanty: Strengthening oversight mechanism to prevent wrongful arrest


Jakarta, IO – Cases of wrongful arrest often occur in law enforcement in Indonesia. Ordinary citizens who do not understand the law often become the victims. This is an issue that becomes the concern of Jakarta Legal Aid Institute.

In a public discussion held on Thursday (7/12), the non-governmental organization revealed that in the 2016-22 period alone there were 10 cases of alleged wrongful arrests by police officers in Greater Jakarta that it handled. So far this year, there have been 11 cases in Bekasi, West Java.

Other data from the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), during the June 2020-May 2021 period, there were 80 cases of torture, treatment, cruel punishment or other inhumane treatments in Indonesia. Of the 80 cases, the police were found to be the perpetrators themselves, implicated in as many as 36 cases.

One of the speakers in this discussion was Nukila Evanty, advisory board member of the Asia Center and executive director of the Women Working Group (WWG). In her view, everyone has the right to personal freedom and security. No one may be arbitrarily arrested or detained. No one may be deprived of their liberty except on legitimate grounds, in accordance with procedures established by the law.

Article 9 of Law 12/2005 on Ratification of the Civil & Political Rights Covenant stipulates that: (1) every person who is arrested must be informed of what they are charged with; (2) they must immediately be brought before a court or other official authorized by law to exercise judicial power; (3) the right to be tried within a reasonable time frame; (4) the right to be released (on the basis of a guarantee to appear at trial); (5) the right to be tried before a court to determine the legality of their arrest; (6) order their immediate release if the detention is proven to be unlawful according to law; and (7) every person who has been victimized is entitled to receive compensation.

Nukila found that cases of wrongful arrest have occured in several countries in Asia, including Hong Kong, Indonesia and Vietnam. For example, in Hong Kong, the authorities there wrongfully detained and tried 47 pro-democracy activists in 2021. The activists were detained for more than two years. The basis for their detention was a subversive article in the national security law. Offenders are threatened with life imprisonment.

Meanwhile, in Indonesia, the cases include an alleged kidnapping and torture that resulted in the death of 22-year-old Imam Masykur, carried out by the Presidential Security Detail on Thursday (23/8). Asian Human Rights Commission has been pressuring the government to have this case tried in the criminal court.

In Vietnam, there is the detention of Dang Dinh Bach, who was arrested on June 24 2021 and sentenced to five years’ jail on false charges of tax evasion. In fact, Bach is famous for amplifying the voices of marginalized communities suffering from coal-fired power plants in Vietnam. He was arbitrarily arrested on various trumped-up charges based on Article 331 of the 2015 Criminal Code. He was accused of abusing democratic freedoms to violate state interests and Article 117 on the prohibition to distribute material deemed subversive, as well as Article 318 on public order disturbance.

Nukila also highlighted regulations that have an impact on human rights violations in several countries in Asia.

For example, in Thailand, with regard to the 2007 Computer Crime Law, the 2019 Cyber ​​Security Law, and the 2019 National Intelligence Law. Through these laws, the government can access personal data without a court order and mass surveillance on the ground of national security.

Meanwhile, in Myanmar, there are amendments to the 2021 Electronic Transactions Law and the 2022 Cyber ​​Security Bill, which allows the military to access personal data for national security, monitor people’s online activities and prohibit the use of VPN networks.

Then in Cambodia, through the National Internet Gateway (NIG) sub-decree which was signed into law in 2021. Through this law, online activities, interception and communication censorship are strictly monitored.

The last one is the Philippines through the SIM Card Registration Act. It requires citizens to register their SIM cards before activation and register on social media platforms using their real names and phone numbers.

There are two countries that are very committed to the importance of compensation for victims of wrongful arrest, namely Singapore and Japan.

In January 2023, the Singapore Police arrested the wrong person, 48-year-old Mah Kiat Seng. He filed a case against the polic and received US$20,000 compensation over false imprisonment and his incarceration at the mental hospital.

Meanwhile, in Japan, the Osaka District Court decided in March 2015 to pay 12 million yen to Keiko Aoki who was detained for a crime he never committed. Aoki filed a lawsuit demanding compensation payment from the Osaka prefectural government. She was accused of lighting a fire that killed her 11-year-daughter at home in 1995. Aoki spent 20 years in prison before being released in 2015.

In light of the many incidents of false arrests, Nakila gives three recommendations to ensure this can never happen again. First, strengthen effective monitoring mechanisms by independent institutions and establish compensation and rehabilitation mechanisms for victims of wrongful arrest. Second, rescind or revise laws that violate the right to privacy and reduce arbitrary arrest and detention practices.

Article 9 of Law 12/2005 on the Ratification of the Covenant on Civil & Political Rights states that pre-trial detention must be used as the last resort. This means that there must be alternatives to detention.

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No one shall be arrested and kept in detention without being informed of the reasons for the their arrest and there must be access to defense attorney or legal advisor.

“False arrest and imprisonment constitutes serious human rights violations so victims have the right to sue law enforcement officers because they have lost their right to life, ownership, honor and reputation, and the right to personal freedom and equality,” said Nukila. (des)


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