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Strengthening accountability: restoring trust in the Indonesian National Police

Jakarta (Indonesia), 7 July 2010
- Recently the Indonesian National Police has faced mounting criticism from the general public and the media for a lack of accountability and transparency. A number of Indonesian National Police officers, including high-ranking officers, have repeatedly been accused of being involved in corrupt practices. Media reports suggest that many Indonesians consider the police force to be heavily politicized. This perception, combined with the accusations of corruption, has eroded public trust in the integrity of the Indonesian National Police. The public and the media are now demanding that the Indonesian National Police address these issues and fix weak oversight systems in order to become a more professional and trustworthy service.

To address these issues UNODC, in collaboration with the Indonesian National Police, organized a round table on "National Police Reform Efforts: Strengthening Accountability" among representatives of academia, the Indonesian National Police and non-governmental organizations. Commissioner General and Inspector General of Supervision of the Indonesian National Police, Nanan Soekarna, inaugurated the round table on behalf of the Indonesian National Police Chief, General Bambang Hendarso Danuri. Mr. Soekarna explained that the Indonesian National Police had been one of the first institutions to respond to the demands of the Government's national reform agenda. He pointed out that "qualified human resources and reliable management system are required to further progress with the reform agenda".

Mr. Soekarna added that he expected the round table discussions to help the Indonesian National Police develop synergies between all entities involved in the Government's national reform agenda. In direct response to the General's presentation, several representatives of non-governmental organizations made critical comments about the low levels of accountability and transparency within the police and urged that reforms be carried out.

Professor Sylvia Tiwon, who teaches literature and gender, oral and cultural studies of South-East Asia with a focus on Indonesia at the University of California, suggested that an external institution with the authority to summon personnel needed to be set up. She explained that such an organization would then focus on supervising and overseeing the Indonesian National Police. She noted that "even though there are internal mechanisms, the Indonesian National Police also needs to be held to account by external institutions as this will restore trust by the general public".

Mark Shaw who heads the Integrated Programme and Oversight Branch at UNODC Headquarters, gave a presentation entitled "International Frameworks and Models for Police Accountability and Civilian Oversight". Mr. Shaw stressed that achieving a balance between operational efficiency and oversight was important. He went on to explain the various models of internal and external oversight used in a number of countries. In response to his presentation, Indonesian National Police Inspector General, Paulus Purwoko commented that "accountability is not meant to eliminate police power. Rather, it is meant to prevent its abuse. It is about preventing police misconduct and addressing such misconduct when it does happen."

At the end of the round table session, Adrianus Meliala, Professor of Criminology at the University of Indonesia, invited participants to work in small groups to discuss the current Indonesian National Police reform challenges and opportunities.

The round table participants concluded the meeting by agreeing that discussing the protection of human rights, police violence and corrupt practices within the police force, amongst a diverse group of stakeholders was essential in order to restore public trust.

The key discussion points of the round table are currently being incorporated into a policy paper by UNODC and will be circulated to all round table participants and relevant government institutions.