INDONESIAN police have killed 11 suspected petty criminals in Jakarta as part of an anti-crime campaign ahead of the Asian Games next month, sparking human rights concerns.
A report by the ABC on Tuesday said the “trigger-happy” police have shot 52 alleged criminals as the city prepares to play host to 45 Asian nations in a bid to prevent criminal activities from ruining the event.
Since early July, the enforcers nabbed 320, many of which were shot in the legs and were paraded during media conferences as a warning to other criminals.
Jakarta’s police chief inspector-general Idham Aziz said the police will investigate the deaths but offered no apologies for the stern approach to crime fighting.
“I’ve ordered all chief of detectives to conduct raids against all the thugs, bag snatchers, muggers and violent thieves … so Jakarta can remain safe and under control,” he was quoted as saying.
“I’ve also ordered all the teams not to hesitate, to take firm measures when these criminals endanger people and threaten the wellbeing of the officers.”
Indonesia’s national police chief, General Tito Karnavian, had earlier pushed for the police to get tough on crime before the city hosts the games. “The most important thing I expect is results,” Tito said.
“If a crime occurs during this month and officers are not able to close the case then I’ll replace them because this means they can’t do their job and I will offer the job to someone else who can.”
Usman Hamid, Amnesty International Indonesia’s executive director, called the hardline approach “ridiculous”.
“These shootings are in violation of Indonesia’s obligations under international law,” he said, adding there were concerns of police being “trigger-happy”. “This is also in breach of Indonesia’s constitution and Indonesia’s principal of the rule of law … so it has to be stopped.”
Usman also drew parellels of the police killings and tough approach with the Philippines drug war which has claimed thousands in what activists say are extrajudicial killings.
“In the beginning we were just thinking this was just part of public officials seeking popular support in their rhetoric, but over time it started to be a reality,” he said.
On Thursday, Indonesia said it will provide tight security for nearly 17,000 athletes and officials who will take part in next month’s multi-sport event.
The chief organiser said the Aug 18 – Sept 2 Games, will witness a 20 percent increase in participation compared to the Incheon Games four years ago.
Security concerns for the event increased after suicide bombings claimed by Islamic State killed more than 30 people in the country’s second-biggest city of Surabaya in May.
Thohir said 100,000 police and army force personnel would guard the Games and the authorities would be using facial recognition technology at some of the locations.
“We’re also making sure countries who do not have good relations with each other are not staying at the same hotel,” he said.
Additional reporting by Reuters.