Indonesia: Authorities failing to provide justice to victims of football stadium disaster

Responding to the acquittal today of two police officers who faced criminal negligence charges for their alleged role in the Kanjuruhan football stadium stampede that killed 135 people, Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid said:

“The authorities are once again failing to provide justice to victims of excessive force in Indonesia, despite vows in the aftermath of the disaster to hold those responsible to account. Months after a tragedy that shocked the world only a handful of people have been convicted.

“Amnesty International Indonesia reiterates its calls to launch a prompt, thorough and independent probe into the appalling actions of security forces at the stadium, where tear gas was fired into the crowd triggering a stampede at the exits. The families of victims are understandably distraught at the meagre results of the cases, which have fallen far short.

“In Indonesia, there is a deeply entrenched and broad pattern of violence and abuse of power by Indonesian security forces. This tragic case should be a chance to right wrongs and change course, not repeat the same old mistakes. Lack of accountability also sends a dangerous message to members of the security forces who may be reassured that they can operate with a free hand and zero consequences.”

Background:

On 16 March 2023, the District Court in the Indonesian city of Surabaya acquitted the chief of operations of the Malang Regency Police, and the former head of the Prevention Unit of the Malang Regency Police, saying there was not enough evidence to convict them.

On the same day of the acquittals, another officer, the commander of the 3rd Mobile Brigade Company of the East Java Police, was jailed for 1.5 years after being found guilty of negligence.

The police officers were charged over the deadly crowd crush that left 135 people dead in Indonesia’s Kanjuruhan stadium in October 2022. The crush was triggered by tear gas fired by security officers.

On 9 March, the Surabaya District Court sentenced a stadium security officer to one year in jail, while the match organising committee chairman was given 1.5 years.

At a separate military court on 7 February, a soldier was sentenced to 4 months in prison for hitting two football spectators during the Kanjuruhan tragedy.

On 14 February, members of Indonesia’s Mobile Brigade Corps known as Brimob – a special operations and paramilitary branch of the National Police –tried to disrupt the trials by jeering and heckling as prosecutors arrived at court.