Indonesian police have shot dead more than 70 people this year in a crackdown on petty criminals ahead of the Asian Games, which are due to start this weekend, a human rights group said on Friday.
At least 77 people have been killed across the country between January and August, a 64-per cent increase on the same period last year, Amnesty International said.
Many of the killings took place during security operations which were “explicitly devised” to prepare the host cities for the sporting event, Amnesty said.
More than 11,000 athletes and officials from 45 countries are participating in the Asian Games, which are scheduled to begin on Saturday in Jakarta and Palembang.
“These shocking figures reveal a clear pattern of unnecessary and excessive use of force by the police, and a constant veil of impunity that taints public security institutions,” Usman Hamid, Amnesty International executive director in Indonesia, said in a statement.
“The hosting of an international sporting event must not come at the price of abandoning human rights,” he said, urging the government to investigate the killings “promptly and effectively.”
Police have defended the use of lethal force, saying officers took “firm and measured action” because the suspects were armed and were endangering the lives of officers.
Human rights groups have also criticized Indonesian police for their increasing use of lethal force in dealing with suspected drug traffickers.
Police shot dead at least 80 drug suspects in 2017, compared to 18 the previous year, according to Amnesty.
Last year, Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered police to shoot drug dealers if they resisted arrest, in remarks that drew comparison to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on drugs.