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ICC Note:  The Indonesian police are understandably concerned about possible backlash from hard-line Islamic groups if they crack down on their illegal activities.  The Indonesian government, at the highest level, must make it very clear that activities that infringe on the constitutionally protected rights of others will not be tolerated.  Until that happens, the police will continue to be afraid.

By Erwin Sihombing

07/05/2015 Indonesia (The Jakarta Globe)

The Indonesian police are reluctant to crack down on hate speech, including by hard-line Islamic groups, because there are no “rewards” for doing so and they fear a backlash, an official has admitted.

Sr. Comr. John Hendri of the National Police’s legal division acknowledged during a discussion in Jakarta on Friday that there was a widely held public perception that the police were unwilling to take on purveyors of hate speech such as groups hostile to minority religious groups.

“The truth is that police officers who see, hear or experience such incidents can file a report [for subsequent investigation], but tend to be scared to because there’s no reward or guarantee of safety for themselves,” he said.

He did not specify what he meant by “reward,” although it is almost universally believed that the Indonesian police typically demand money from anyone filing a report before they will proceed with an investigation.

John said the police were drafting a regulation that would protect officers when taking on cases of hate speech.

“We hope that with this regulation, our officers won’t be scared anymore,” he said.

“Without it, all they’ll have to work on are the existing laws, which require that a member of the public file a complaint [about the hate speech]. But there’s no way a member of any congregation is going to rat on a religious leader who threatens them.”

The claim that the police need protection against purveyors of hate speech is hugely ironic, given that some of the worst perpetrators, in particular the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), have long been championed by the police as providing a community policing service.

Leaked US diplomatic cables dating from 2006 allege that the FPI, responsible for attacks on minority Islamic communities and Christians, receives funding from the police and acts as the force’s “attack dog.” Senior officials at the Jakarta Police and National Police levels have for years defended the FPI as a “partner” to the police and attempted to downplay its litany of transgressions.

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