Graft prisoner vaccination gives impression state prioritising elite law breakers

Liputan 6 – February 26, 2021
Former Social Affairs Minister Juliari Peter Batubara and other KPK prisoners get Covid-19 jabs – Undated (Humas KPK)

Fachrur Rozie, Jakarta – Criminologist and policing expert Adrianus Meliala has joined others in criticising Covid-19 vaccination for Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prisoners.

The former Ombudsman commissioner is questioning the urgency of giving the vaccine to prisoners held on corruption charges. "It's not excessive it think to ask the question, what's the urgency in prioritising these prisoners", said Meliala on Friday February 26.

"Although it's not too relevant, the reality however is that these prisoners are senior government officials or rich business people who have misused their positions so it could create further public sensitivity [about the vaccination program]", he added.

Meliala is surprised at the vaccination of the KPK prisoners who ipso facto are public officials who are alleged to have misused their authority to steal from the ordinary people.

The former National Police Commission (Kompolnas) member is of the view that the vaccination of KPK prisoners in fact gives the impression that the state is prioritising elite class law breakers first.

"The vaccination of KPK prisoners gives the impression that it's far more important to give priority to elite class law breakers rather than prioritising the tens of millions of people who obey the law (law abiding people), who are now patiently waiting in vaccination queues", he said.

Moreover, according to Meliala the vaccination of KPK prisoners is being done before the government has finished the mass vaccination program for health workers, public officials and the aged.

Meliala is of the view that if indeed prisoners are to be given priority in the vaccination program, it would be better to prioritise prisoners in prisons or correctional institutions which are over-capacity.

According to Meliala, there are also around 20,000 prisoners being held by the police, the Attorney General's Office and courts spread across thousands of location all across Indonesia. Meliala says that these prisoners are no different from the prisoners being held by the KPK, they have all [allegedly] broken the law.

"So it would be more strategic to vaccinate 250,000 convicted criminals, especially those who are in correctional institutions which have excess inmates several times their carrying capacity", he said.

As has been reported, a number of KPK prisoners have undergone a mass vaccination program at the KPK's support building. One of the prisoners who was seen being vaccinated was former Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Minister Edhy Prabowo.

"Out of a total of 61 KPK prisoners, a total of thirty-nine prisoners have already been vaccinated and [vaccinations] for the other 22 have been postponed on health grounds", said acting KPK spokesperson Ali Fikri on Thursday February 24.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Adrianus: Vaksinasi Tahanan KPK Terkesan Dahulukan Pelanggar Hukum Kelas Elite".]