Notes from the Field

From Indonesia: Police and Religious Leaders Promote Human Rights

February 13, 2008

Since the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998, Indonesia has made significant progress on democratic reform. The subsequent period of reformasi has included constitutional amendments, significant reforms in the judicial system, and the beginnings of reform of the police sector into an accountable, civilian force. On February 11th, a $2.5 million project was announced to advance democracy and human rights in Indonesia through two leading change agents: religious leaders and the police.

Funded by the Royal Danish Embassy, the two-year project will empower religious leaders to promote values, including gender equality and human rights, while enabling the security sector to uphold those civic values through more effective engagement with communities and local government.

This program comes at an opportune time. Religious leaders in Indonesia are increasingly exploring ways to use their credibility and influence to promote civic participation that results in concrete improvements for communities. Likewise, Indonesia’s police force has undergone significant reforms that have opened it up to more civic-minded approaches.

The project builds upon previous Asia Foundation initiatives that have engaged Muslim leaders in Indonesia’s development since the 1970s and, more recently, the Foundation’s pioneering Community Oriented Policing (COP) program, begun in 2001, that assists police in their efforts to improve services to citizens and reduce crime. With this newest project, The Foundation will work in close collaboration with 11 Indonesian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Indonesian National Police to improve understanding of civic values among religious leaders and the police and cadets at the Police Academy, and increase the capacity of religious leaders to mobilize and lead community action.

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