Nasty Balinese Police Methods 1 – The Complaint and Cross Check
By Bali BS News
Jul 27, 2005, 01:49
This is the first in a series of articles outlining the very nasty and highly unlawful or equally dubious methods used by corrupt Balinese police officers to extort money from people or businesses. We will progress (in further news letters) on to the equally nasty methods used by certain criminal prosecutors and judges themselves, in collusion with those police officers to extort even larger amounts from people. In later articles, we will describe for you how the Balinese police even abuse Interpol against people to both cover for their own operational inefficiency and to help extort money from the “suspect”, and why Interpol allows them to do it. We will show you why it is very unlikely you can ever win against police and judiciary corruption in Indonesia, unless you are prepared to pay many times the amount they attempt to extort from you in the first place in pursuit of your legal rights and moral duty. And why the police, prosecutors and judges can currently get away with it. Unfortunately, the conclusion of this story is; the longer you take to agree to pay the police, the more it will cost you, plain and simple. But the story is better than the conclusion we think.
First, let us point out that it is widely published that the Indonesian police, judiciary and lawyers collude together to extort money from people. Be warned, when we say “lawyers” we mean both prosecution and defense lawyers, so even the lawyer who is meant to be helping you is likely simply working out a plan with the others on how they can best make money from you; No really, it is a fact. Let us also point out that there is no such thing as an Indonesian police complaints commission or other body to watch over the police; they are effectively a law unto themselves. Finally, it seems to be accepted that the Balinese police simply react to complaints made by people to them, or by performing duties readily known to provide extortion money making opportunities (e.g. traffic control duty) or to orders handed down from Jakarta. There is a consensus of opinion that unless someone reports a crime, the police will never know, or rather not do anything about it. So if the police pull you in, it is almost certain someone you know is out to get you!
So why would someone make a police complaint against you? If we accept you have done nothing legally wrong really, normally it will be as a grudge or to try and have your business shut down; read our story on Candi Internet. How do people make a police complaint? That is the “trick”. They can go to the police station with jurisdiction over where the alleged offense took place and report it to the officers on duty at the police station complaints desk. Or they can go directly to a police officer, normally a senior police officer, if they have the contacts and the money. When someone makes a complaint at the police complaints desk, they really have no way of telling if the police will actually do anything. While going to a senior corrupt police officer and paying them some money will get that person a promise to investigate the complaint. And why not, it will give the corrupt officer even more opportunity to make money. No, it is not fair, nor right, but it gets worse.
In an apparent attempt to circumvent the law regarding how official police investigations have to be conducted, someone came up with an unofficial, if you like pre-investigation police method. It is an investigation to decide whether an official full investigation is required! The police officers like to call it “cross check”. Yes it is legal and they even have an official name for it, “penyelidikan”; Pre-investigation case numbers are denoted by the appendix “Dit.Intelkam”. An official investigation is called a “penyidikan” and case numbers are appended with “Dit.Reskrim”. We believe you can legally refuse a cross-check and you are probably best advised to do so, as there is very little to be gained by you in your favour. But be careful, the reason we do not know if you can refuse a cross check, is that we can not find an instance of anyone ever doing so. Perhaps a refusal is interpreted as a legal admission statement of guilt by the police. We are keen to take advice on this aspect.
Of course, most westerners believe police to be civil servants doing their important duty and if they have nothing to hide, that it is a good idea to go and tell all to the police. But the Balinese police are more likely servants to their own wallets, not to the public good. And it is well known the Balinese police will likely simply try to trick you into making rash statements and thus gain further “evidence” to help them make the investigation official. That is why there is an Indonesian saying “Lose a chicken and report it to the police, lose a cow”.
A sure sign the police are watching you and thinking about whether to do a cross check or not is if the hotel clerk where you are staying asks to make a copy of your passport, rather than you just note your passport details on the guest form. If the clerk takes a long time or you do not see them return with a copy of your passport for their guest file, the chances are they have copied every page of your passport at the bequest of and given these to the police. If you therefore experience this, you may want to inform your country’s embassy or consulate, and perhaps get a list of lawyers that may help you if required; though God help you find an honest and capable one! It seems the main reason the police want to see every page of your passport is to see how often and how much time you spend in Bali, and using what visa. You see, one of the easiest things for a corrupt police officer to get something on you is visa violation. And their interpretation, like with all things, can be very extreme. A well known case is of a foreign villa owner who was arrested, refused to pay extortion money and then was deported by the police for violating his tourist visa regulations by working. What was the work he was doing? Why he moved a dustbin outside from his villa because the maid tried and it was too heavy. Because she had tried, it became work. Do you see what we mean by extreme intrepration now?
So let us presume the police decide to pre-investigate you. After following you for a while, the police officers will come up to you and ask you to come to the police station for a cross check. The chances are they will ask you to bring your passport, so they can make copies of it. Of course, as they already have copies of it, that is a falsehood, nothing more than a trick to get their hands on your passport. While they are questioning you in the police station, you will start to worry about why they have not returned your passport of course. They must know this, and that it puts you under pressure and therefore is more likely to help you make a mistake. You see, corrupt Balinese police officers will try and trick you. Normally over their favorite yet often unrelated (to the so called investigation) subject, visa violation.
So, as the police question you, look out for this trick to get your passport and often unrelated questions. Maybe lodge your passport with your embassy or consulate and carry only copies with you if and when you become aware of a potential cross check. And look out for the question tricks. Perhaps you built a villa in Bali and say you were to there this time to go shopping for some furnishings; that may be construed or rather abused as your working illegally whilst in Bali on a visitor’s visa. Holding onto your passport also gives the police a chance to bully you into signing a statement in Indonesian. If they have your passport still after many hours and then they ask you to sign a statement in Indonesian saying “There is no problem. This is what you said translated into Indonesian. If you sign it, you can go”. The chances are you are actually signing an admission to some crime or another, and if you were foolish enough to do so, that would be it. If you refuse to sign the statement on the basis you can not be sure it accurately reflects what you told the police in English, they will probably inform you that they are going to hold onto your passport to guarantee you come back when a translator can be found. That is totally unlawful, as they can not hold your passport unless they charge you; but what are you going to do?
When you come back to the police station at the appointed time when a translator has been brought in by the police, will they simply translate the statement in Indonesian you were asked to sign? No of course not. That statement will have been destroyed due to the fact a new one has to be prepared as the interpretor & translator needs to be present during the questioning. Will you get asked the same questions, about unrelated visa type issues? No of course not, that would be unlawful for the police to ask you such questions. Once you have had the new statement read back to you in your own language by the translator, you will be required to sign it. Then the police must decide if they have enough to progress the case into a formal investigation against you, when they can legally hold your passport. Quite ironic that, they decide whether they have to return your passport after unlawfully holding it, or to hold it lawfully. If corrupt police believe they can make a criminal investigation out of this, bearing in mind they likely work with corrupt prosecutors and judges, their case need not be too substantive. This is the point they will try and extort money from you, unless the investigation was ordered from above on the basis that you go to court or be deported in any event. In which case, that is what would happen.
Probably waving your passport in front of you, the police officer may well say that they feel the police have enough evidence to make a full criminal investigation into and prosecution against you. Perhaps asking if there is anything you want to say; edging you closer to the subject of money. But even if the police clearly have nothing on you and any criminal investigation and / or prosecution would be a farce, that will not be the end of it. Probably again waving your unlawfully held passport in front of you, the methods of a corrupt police officer would then be to say they do not have enough evidence against you yet to be able to charge you with anything. But as he still suspects you are guilty of whatever, the police will still watch you and your friends & family in Bali. So you must be very careful! Of course, this is yet another opportunity for the terrified “suspect” to say they magic words; “What will it take to make this all stop / go away”?! Got the picture?
You see, unlike official investigations, penyelidikan (pre-investigations) are not subject to the same laws / rules. One of those rules is that the police must close an official investigation if a criminal prosecution can not be brought through lack of evidence. The police can and do keep pre-investigations open for ever. So they can get a “suspect” back in whenever they chose to answer the same questions and to try and trick them again. They can basically make your life hell and wear you down to the point you either make a mistake and / or agree to pay them some money to make the problem go away. So once the police have a file on you, it is unlikely to ever go away unless you are prepared to pay for it. But, be warned, if you pay once, be prepared to pay again and again.
The final dirty trick corrupt police use in these matters is to make sure the “suspect” knows who made the complaint against them, despite the fact the police will refuse to name the complainant officially in writing as they claim they have a duty to protect the complainant’s identity for fear of their safety. Quite ironic this really when you consider Indonesia has reportedly no witness protection program; hmmmm! Maybe you will think you know who did this to you already and ask. Maybe you will be left alone with the investigation file in front of you with something naming the complainant inside, so you then know who to ask the police made the complaint. Why do the police do this? It seems logical, so maybe you have something you wish to complain about this person to the police over. Maybe they can make even more extortion money. Nice huh?!
NB When we say “unlawful” we mean either “unlawful” in the true dictionary sense or using such dubious and unfair interpretations of too often vague laws so as to make the act unlawful in a de facto sense.