Indonesian cops in spotlight over nude pictures

INDONESIA - Five years after the passage of the controversial Pornography Law on Oct. 31, 2008, Indonesia is still not free of pornography. In fact, law enforcers, it appears, are now involved in the making of online porn themselves.

In his first days in office, National Police chief Comr. Gen. Sutarman has been put on the spot by an embarrassing matter: leaked self-taken nude photographs of two officers.

On Thursday, a blog uploaded a sequence of 13 pictures apparently of a middle-aged policeman stripping off his uniform. The officer appeared to be a precinct chief in Wonogiri, Central Java, identified only as Adj. Sr. Comr. MS.

The Wonogiri Police have suspended MS.

Only a few days before, a Lampung policewoman, identified only as Brig. RS, was also in the news after naked pictures of her went viral on Monday. RS had been the personal secretary to Lampung Police chief Brig. Gen. Heru Winarko before she was suspended on Tuesday.

When asked about the matter on Friday, Sutarman responded briefly: "Whatever the violations, we will enforce the law".

It remains unclear, however, whether the police will charge the officers under the Pornography Law, as they have done with a number of civilians whose nude pictures and videos have been posted online.

In 2010, the National Police arrested Nazril Irham, aka Ariel, vocalist with pop band Peterpan, following a sex-video scandal. At the time, a number of sex tapes featuring Ariel and two different women - allegedly popular celebrities Luna Maya and Cut Tari - were widely disseminated, sparking protests by religious groups.

In 2011, Bandung District Court found Ariel guilty of breaching Article 29 of the 2008 Pornography Law on the production and distribution of pornography. He was sentenced to three-and-a-half years' imprisonment and fined Rp 250 million (S$28,000).

The verdict came despite Ariel's claim that the video was personal and filmed before the law was made, and that he did not leak the video.

Ariel is not the only one to have been convicted under the controversial law, which many claim is draconian and criminalizing innocent people rather than rooting out pornography.

The Pornography Law stipulates that anyone who produces, makes, copies, circulates, broadcasts, offers, trades, loans or provides pornographic material faces up to 12 years in prison. Article 43 of the law rules that anybody in possession of pornography in any form had to destroy it or hand it over to police within 30 days of the law being endorsed. This means the police should technically have arrested the millions of people who downloaded and stored Ariel's sex videos on their computers or cell phones in order to consistently enforce the law.

But the law appears to have been selectively enforced, with several politicians caught in sex scandals evading charges.

The police officers appear to be regarded as victims in the scandal and will likely face disciplinary sanctions only. Some media outlets have reported that MS lost his cellphone, which contained the naked pictures. An unknown individual, who stole or found the cell phone, then made the pictures public.

While in the RS case, her former boyfriend allegedly uploaded the pictures to Facebook after learning that she was marrying another man.

National Police Commission (Kompolnas) member Edi Hasibuan suggested that disciplinary sanctions were sufficient punishment for the officers. "As private collections, I suggest that they should be sanctioned and reprimanded," he said. "All police chiefs should remind their officers not to mess with nude pictures. They need to be aware of the possibility that the pictures could be leaked," Edi added.