Youth stuck in violent cycle

Following the brawls that led to the deaths of two students last month, there is a sense that the jailing of juvenile delinquents and police brutality when dealing with minors facing the law is creating a cycle of violence.

Most of the children imprisoned in Greater Jakarta were tortured by the police during their arrest or interrogations, according to a study conducted by the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) that covered the 12-month period prior to January 2012.

Noted child advocate Arist Merdeka Sirait said that incarcerating youth offenders would not solve the problem of juvenile crime, as the nation’s prison system was an infamous “school” for criminals.

In the first case of its kind, the Cibinong District Court in Bogor, West Java, on Thursday heard testimony in the civil case filed against the police by Syahri Ramadhan, 19.

“The police should not get away with beating kids,” Syahri told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday at the garage in Tebet, South Jakarta, where he works as a mechanic.

Syahri, who alleged that he was tortured by officers who questioned him when he was a minor, has been challenging the “brown line” of the National Police. He has filed suit, claiming that he was falsely arrested by officers assigned to the Bojong Gede police precinct in Bogor.

Police detained Syahri in connection with a robbery when he was 15; during interrogations, investigators allegedly tortured him to make him confess, Syahri said.

Syahri was found innocent by the Cibinong District Court, but not before he spent two months in jail. He later dropped out of junior high school out of a sense of shame, Syahri said.

Syahri’s attorney, Maruli Rajagukguk from the LBH Jakarta, said that suing the police for false arrest or torture would challenge people’s complacency about the brutal and illegal treatment of minors at the hands of law enforcement officers.

Maruli said that the police needed to be “held accountable” to deter similar bad behavior from their peers.

Separately, police have made little progress in their investigation of the killing of SMA 6 high school student Alawy Yusianto Putra on Sept. 24.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said on Thursday that detectives had finished questioning witnesses. The only suspect named in the homicide investigation remains SMA 70 student FR.

Rikwanto said that detectives had concluded that the students from both schools had asked nearby street vendors to store their machetes and other weapons used in the brawl.

Two days after Alawy’s death, Deni Yanuar, a first-year student in Manggarai, was killed in another high school brawl.

Three students of SMK Kartika Zeni vocational high school were arrested following his death.

The National Commission on Child Protection (Komnas PA), an NGO focusing on children’s rights, reported that in the first quarter of this year there were 2,008 cases of juvenile crimes.

The House of Representatives this year passed a law on juvenile justice, which aims to protect children’s rights during the criminal investigation process. The new law also rules that only children above the age of 12 can be criminally processed; and only those 14 and over can be detained.

Implementing regulations for the new law, however, have yet to be issued. Nevertheless, children are protected by the 2002 Law on Child Protection. Indonesia has also ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. (aml)

Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Fri, October 05 2012

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