ICJR Condemns the Police’s Arbitrary Actions against Transgender People in Aceh

The Arbitrary Actions of the Law Enforcement Officials in Aceh:

The National Chief of Police must immediately investigate the North Aceh District Chief of Police and the Aceh Regional Chief of Police for failing to carry out their duties.

On Sunday, 28 January 2018 there were at least 12 transgender people arbitrarily arrested by North Aceh District Police and Shari’a Police. The arrests were followed by the cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of these 12 transgender people.

Reportedly, the transgender people arrested were hair salon workers, and their visitors, at the 5 salons where the arrests took place. They were moved to the North Aceh District Police Station. These acts were reportedly part of an operation called the Society Disease Operations, carried out in Lhoksukhon and Pantonlabu of the Aceh region. Furthermore, at the North Aceh District Police Station, the transgender people’s hair was cut, and they were forced to change their clothes, run, and shout in order to lower their voices to sound like a man’s. Some visual evidence of this event was spread on social media.

ICJR found some violations committed in this inhumane event,

Firstly, these arbitrary actions fulfilled the definition of torture and inhumane treatment. Pursuant to Law No.5 of 1998, Indonesia has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. These actions carried out by the District Police and Shari’a police officers have violated article 5 of the UDHR, article 7 of the ICCPR, article 16 of the CAT and article 28(G)(2) of the Constitution of Indonesia. All of these articles provide protection of all citizens from torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

Secondly, the arbitrary arrest of these transgender people has violated the criminal procedural code of Indonesia. In this case, we found that these transgender people were arrested and forcibly moved to the North Aceh District Police Station. Arrests are regulated under the procedural code as an Investigation Mechanism which can only be applied to someone who is holding the status of Suspect. In the criminal procedural code, in order to execute this mechanism, the Police should have not less than 2 proofs (S 17 jo S 20 jo S 21 of Indonesia Criminal Procedural Code). In this event, there was no sufficient legal justification to carry out these arrests. Therefore, the North Aceh District Police and the Shari’a Police had no authority to carry out these arrests.

Thirdly, this act damaged the image of the Indonesian police and the police code of ethics. The ICJR’s observation is that the actions carried out by the North Aceh District Police and Shari’a Police officers were an attempt to forcibly change the transgender people, and not because a criminal offense had occurred. The act of detainment was done without authority and also violated the police code of ethics, including article 7 (1)(c) of the Police Code of Conduct which regulates such violations. The Police officers in this matter should be examined in an ethical hearing for dismissal.

The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) calls for;

1. The National Chief of Police to thoroughly investigate the arbitrary acts of the North Aceh District Police officers and the Aceh Shari’a Police officers; and

2.  The National Chief of Police to investigate the North Aceh District Chief of Police and the Aceh Regional Chief of Police for failing to carry out their duties to protect the citizens.

Institute for Criminal Justice Reform



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