Plan to release graft convicts likened to thief taking advantage of disaster

CNN Indonesia – April 2, 2020
Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly (right) – Undated (CNN)

Jakarta – The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) has criticised Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly who wants to release corruption convicts on the pretext of preventing the spread of the corona virus (Covid-19) in correctional institutions and prisons.

YLBHI Advocacy Division Head Muhammad Isnur drew an analogy between the release of corruption convicts and a thief you steals things in the midst of a disaster.

“This is like smuggling something through, a kind of, quote theft in the midst of a disaster unquote, it seems like that. They break in, slip in an out in the midst of dangerous situation”, said Isnur during a video teleconference on Thursday April 2.

Isnur said that the planned release of graft convicts conflicts with the principle of providing a deterrent effect for perpetrators of corruption. He believes that Laoly is no longer viewing corruption as an extraordinary crime.

“So, now it’s as if it’s been abolished like corruption is an ordinary crime. So, he is treating chicken thieves the same as thieves who steal the country’s money, the ordinary people’s money. This is very dangerous”, he said.

In addition to this, the plan also conflicts with a Constitutional Court (MK) ruling on judicial review Number 54/PPU-XV/2017 which was submitted by Otto Cornelis Kaligis and his colleagues in 2017.

“[Corruption convicts] OC Kaligis, SDA [Suryadharma Ali], Barnabas Suebu once [submitted a judicial review] challenging Article 14 Paragraph (1) Point (i) of Law Number 12/1995 on Correctional Institutions. Essentially, they were of the view that the restrictions on remissions [for corruption convicts] under Government Regulation Number 99/2012 were discriminative. But the MK declared it was not discriminative”, explained Isnur.

This, concluded Isnur, means that if there is an argument by the government or an official which cites Government Regulation Number 99/2012 as being discriminative, it is the same as belittling the law.

“His is failing to respect the MK’s ruling. His remarks are also unconstitutional. The government should not be fiddling around with Government Regulation Number 99/2012”, he concluded.

Isnur said that Laoly’s plan to revise Government Regulation 99/2012 also shows a step backwards in the government’s performance in building the nation. “Why do they keep going backwards, further in the direction of national disintegration, towards a failed state”, he asserted.

Earlier, during a meeting with the House of Representatives (DPR) Commission III on Wednesday April 1, Laoly proposed that Government Regulation Number 99/2012 on Regulations and Rights of Penitentiary Inmates be revised. The move was to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in correctional institutions and prisons.

Laoly believes that the revisions must be seen in the context of the conditions in Indonesian prisons which are already overcrowded and susceptible to the spread of the corona virus.

There will be at least four criteria for prisoners to be able to be released into an assimilation and integration program through a mechanism to revise the government regulation.

One of these is prisoners convicted for corruption crimes that are over 60 years of age and have served two-thirds of their sentence. “Our thinking is how to revise Government Regulation Number 99/2012 which of course will be with tight criteria for the moment”, said Laoly. (bmw/bmw)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “YLBHI Kritik Tajam Yasonna karena Ingin Bebaskan Koruptor”.]