Problematic policing: Beyond the law


I am a former heroin user who had two unfortunate experiences with the police. I was caught by the police for the first time in 2005. At that time, I was in front of Sahid University to meet some friends who studied there. But on the same day, some police officers from the Tebet sectoral police station raided at the university because they were told that a cannabis party was happening there. Since the raid was conducted in an open space, the situation rapidly became chaotic. One of the police officers caught me while I was standing amongst the students: a policeman violently ordered me to pick up a joint butt from the ground and give it to him. I felt intimidated and followed his orders. That’s when he pushed me into a police car and took me to the police station.

At the police station, the head of the narcotics unit attempted to force me to admit that the joint was mine. I explained that it was not the case, and told him what had happened. But they kept me in custody. In the custody suite, I was forced to take off my clothes and have a shower with four police officers standing in front of me and staring at me closely. They then forced me to wear nothing but my underwear while I was in custody (I was told that I could not wear my own trousers but they never gave me a prisoner uniform). In my opinion, it was obviously a violation of my right as a citizen. After three days, the police met my parents and asked for money (IDR 250.000, corresponding to US$26.69). My parents gave the money to the head of the narcotics unit, who then let me go.

In 2006, I once again had to deal with the police. The story began with the arrest of a man, Pu’ung at his rented house, where the police found two packages of heroin. The police forced Pu’ung to call his dealer and order more heroin from him. The dealer agreed to meet Pu’ung in front of a small restaurant near to my house. I came to the restaurant while Pu’ung was waiting for his dealer and started to chat with him. Suddenly, three police officers arrested me and accused me of being a courier of the dealer. They took Pu’ung and me to the police station, without looking for any other evidence of my involvement in this case.

At the police station, an officer forced me to admit that I was guilty. I was taken to a room by two officers, where they started to torture me by stabbing my fingers several times with a ball-point pen, while forcing me to admit my involvement in the case. Because I did not admit it, I was finally taken to the investigating room. An investigator then started to intimidate me by punching both of my ears until I could not hear anything. Finally, I was released, because they could not find any evidence against me.

I hope that these incidents will not happen to anyone else in the future.

This story is taken from a new joint publication between TalkingDrugs and IDPC looking at young people's experience of current systems of drug control.


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