Criminal Suspects and Forced Confessions: The Indonesian Legal Aid Case Files, 1973-98

Annie Pohlman

University of Queensland

In this paper, I discuss accounts of torture against criminal suspects at the hands of military and police personnel in Indonesia. These accounts are found in the case files of Jakarta’s Legal Aid Institute (LBH-Jakarta), and were made either by the suspects themselves or by members of their families. My focus is on cases handled during the ‘New Order’ military regime (1966-98), and the 148 files which I examine span those compiled by Legal Aid staff from between 1973, shortly after the Institute was founded, and 1998. Very little is known about the abuse of criminal suspects during the New Order. Torture against political detainees under the regime has been well-documented, with extensive evidence of these abuses compiled by human rights groups and survivors regarding the 1965-66, East Timor, Aceh and West Papuan cases. It has only been since the end of the regime that various legal aid and human rights groups across Indonesia have been able to document cases of torture against criminal suspects. This paper presents some of the preliminary findings from these New Order period case files, which show consistent patterns of detainees tortured to confess to crimes, and the use the secret interrogation facilities.


Biography:

Annie Pohlman teaches Indonesian at The University of Queensland. She is author of Women, Sexual Violence and the Indonesian Killings of 1965-66 (2015) and co-editor of a range of volumes on mass atrocities and traumatic histories. She holds a DECRA to examine torture during Indonesia’s ‘New Order’ regime.

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