INDONESIA: A Tortured Inmate and His Family in West Sumatra are Under Threat for Seeking Justice

According to the information obtained from LBH Padang, a 28-year-old inmate named Riko Yeyandra, was receiving the visit of a friend on 8 September 2013 at Class IIB Solok Correctional Facility (Lapas Solok) where he was being detained. Only a few minutes after he started talking to his friend, Riko was asked to come to another room where two prison guards, Dedi Bahari and Masri Siswanto, were waiting for him. The two prison guards kicked Riko in his left waist so forcefully that it was bruised, hit him on his head and electrocuted him in different parts of his body, including his hands. Riko asked the two prison guards what he had done wrong, to which the latter responded, ‘if you are not pleased (about this) then just report us to the Head of the Correctional Facility’. (Photo: Riko Yeyandra was kicked, beaten up and electrocuted. He is suffering from bruises and injuries in different parts of his body. Courtesy of LBH Padang)

After torturing Riko, the two prison guards sent Riko back to the room where his friend was waiting. Using the camera of her phone, the friend managed to take several pictures of Riko who was bruised on different parts of his body. She later informed Riko’s family and uploaded the pictures she took on the social media website Facebook. It has been reported that the friend received a phone call afterwards from a staff of the Correctional Facility who asked her to delete the pictures from Facebook as they are considered to be ‘defamatory’ to the institution.

On 11 September 2013, Riko reported the abuse he had suffered to Matrizal, the Correctional Facility’s Interim Head of Serenity and Order. The next day, Matrizal met Riko with two prison guards who admitted their wrongdoings and apologised for the abuse. On 13 September 2013, Riko was visited by his family who also complained to Matrizal. Responding to such complaint, Matrizal asked the two prison guards to apologise to the family. He also promised Riko’s family that he would not protect the guards who have tortured their son.

Three days later on 16 September 2013, Riko’s family was accompanied by LBH Padang to lodge a criminal complaint to the West Sumatra Regional Police. The task of investigating the complaint was later delegated to Solok District Police.

In the afternoon of that day, a sibling and the uncle of Riko received phone calls from an inmate in Lapas Solok who asked them not to make any further fuss on the abuse Riko had experienced otherwise ‘200 inmates in Lapas Solok will be assaulted’. Other members of Riko’s family have also received text messages from other inmates to delete the pictures of Riko on Facebook as well as to withdraw their complaint to the police. LBH Padang reported that the intimidation from the other inmates was allegedly encouraged by the authorities of Lapas Solok who have threatened to deny the inmates’ right to parole if they refused to do so.

On 17 September 2013, a team from LBH Padang conducted meetings with the authorities of Lapas Solok, as well as the local offices of the Head of Ministry of Law and Human Rights and the National Human Rights Commission in West Sumatra. In these meetings, LBH Padang requested the relevant authorities to immediately transfer Riko to a safer correctional facility. As soon as the meeting with the National Human Rights Commission was concluded, Riko’s parents received a phone call from the Ministry of Law and Human Rights’ local office in West Sumatra who urged the family not to pursue the case any further. On the same day, LBH Padang also visited Riko in Lapas Solok. Riko, however, could not speak to his lawyers from LBH Padang freely as the Head of the Correctional Facility, Sofyan, was also present.

LBH Padang reported that on 21 September 2013 Riko was transferred to Sijunjung Correctional Facility (Lapas Sijunjung) which is 3-4 hours away drive from the province’s capital, Padang, or Solok, the city where the abuses took place. Such decision was heavily criticized by LBH Padang which believes it is a deliberate attempt to disrupt the ongoing legal proceedings against the two prison guards. In the previous meetings with several relevant authorities, LBH Padang has specifically recommended the transfer of Riko to Muaro Padang or Bukittinggi Correctional Facilities which are not too far from Solok. According to an official letter from Lapas Solok, the relocation to Lapas Sijunjung is only temporary until the Head of Ministry of Law and Human Rights’ local office in West Sumatra has reached a final decision.

It has been reported that on 1 October 2013 the Head of Lapas Solok, Sofyan, visited Solok District Police urging the cross examinations between the two prison guards to be postponed.