Sat, 08 Oct 1994

Police pledge to ban gatherings lacking permits

JAKARTA (JP): Police warned yesterday that they will ban any gathering which lacks an official permit or recommendation papers from the authorities.

"We do not disobey any rules and regulations in this country," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. K. Ratta announced yesterday.

Recently, a number of lawyers strongly protested against the police action, saying that it runs counter to the spirit of the 1945 Constitution, which guarantees freedom of association and speech.

The one-star general said that the police's decision to dissolve unlicensed gatherings is required by law as stipulated in Article 510 of the Criminal Code and a temporary government regulation (Pnps) issued in 1963.

According to the Criminal Code, holding a public gathering or a campaign in a public space without a permit from the police or the appointed civil officer is punishable by a maximum fine of Rp 375 (17 US cents). Demonstrating without a permit is punishable by a maximum prison term of two weeks or a maximum fine of Rp 2,250. The rule, however, excludes private parties at home, such as birthdays and marriages.

"Nobody will know what is discussed at a seminar, for example, if we have not been informed about it beforehand," the police spokesman said. "Who will take responsibility if something happens later?"

"Even those holding a birthday party need to inform the head of the neighborhood," he said. However, "we would appreciate when the hosts inform police, so they can take initial measures to handle the traffic flow and maintain order and security during the party.

"Our main target is to help secure the public," Ratta said.


By doing so, there will be no more scapegoats if such a gathering leads to a heavy traffic jam or riot, he explained.

"In many cases, members of the community single out the police as the scapegoat when a meeting degenerates into chaos," he said. "The people blame the police saying that they arrived on the scene late or failed to anticipate the incident."

When asked about the meeting of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) to be held next week in Surabaya, East Java, Ratta said that the National Police Headquarters has yet to issue a permit for the party as it has not yet received any recommendation papers from the local authorities, such as the governor and military officials.

"We'll not issue a permit as long as there is no recommendation from the local authorities who better understand the situation there," he said.

He said that the police have banned at least three meetings or seminars in the past three months because the organizers did not have official permits. (bsr)