The scales of justice is a reminder that everyone, no matter what color, status, or sexuality, is equal in the eyes of the law.
However, in Indonesia, it seems that a police officer has a different concept of ‘scales’ of justice.
On February 11, Indonesian authorities started an investigation after a police chief admitted that one of his officers wrapped a live snake around a terrified suspect in order to force a confession.
The investigation was launched after a viral video made rounds online showing a man, sitting on the floor barefoot and handcuffed, who was alleged to pickpocket, screaming hysterically as an officer shouts expletives at a police station in restive Papua province.
‘ONLY TWO TIMES’
In the viral video, a police officer is seen shouting: “How many times have you stolen the mobile phone?” as the unidentified suspect cowers in fear.
“Only two times,” the suspect says in response.
At some point in the video, the officer appears to try to shove the snake into the man’s mouth, while others are heard laughing in the background during the undated video.
“An officer is now being questioned by Papua police internal affairs division,” Papua police spokesman Ahmad Mustofa Kamal told Agence France-Presse Monday.
Kamal did not identify the police officers nor did he say if others in the said station will also be investigated.
Tonny Ananda Swadaya, the police chief in Jayawijaya district, where the incident took place, apologized in a statement Sunday, February 10.
But he added that the suspect was not in physical danger from the snake.
“The snake was tame and not poisonous or dangerous, and the incident was their own idea so they could get admission of guilt as quickly as possible,” Swadaya said in a statement.
“We will work more professionally in the future,” he added.
In the past, the Indonesian security forces have been repeatedly accused of using excessive force and committing rights abuses against Papua’s ethnic Melanesian population including extrajudicial killings of activists and peaceful protestors.
According to Human Rights lawyer Veronica Koman, the viral video only confirmed the reports made by Papuan activists regarding the excesses of the police force.
“They have long known that snakes are being used by police and the military (in interrogations),” she said.
“So they’re not surprised” by the video.