Jakarta – Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial) Deputy Diractor Ardi Manto Adiputra says that the proposal to sentence corruptors to death which has been raised by Attorney General ST Burhanuddin and promoted by Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Chairperson Firli Bahuri is nothing more than a gimmick.
Adiputra believes that the discourse about the death penalty has intentionally been raised in order to restore public trust as a consequence of the failure of the two institutions in eradicating corruption.
"The discourse on the death penalty for corruptors being touted by the Attorney General and Firli over the last week is just a gimmick to cover their failures and the decline in public trust in the two institutions", Adiputra told CNN Indonesia on Wednesday November 24.
Adiputra said that the two institutions, particularly the KPK, have failed to prevent, let alone eradicate corruption. This can be seen from the big corruption cases which have emerged and how law enforcement officials have handled them.
In the corruption case involving former prosecutor Pinangki Sirna Malasari for example, Adiputra said that public trust has declined. People were disappointed with the Attorney General's position of not submitting an appeal against the sentence of only four years in prison.
"This deeply wounded the sense of justice among the public today. Trust in the Attorney General has dropped sharply", he said.
Another example, said Adiputra, is the Covid-19 social aid corruption case involving former Social Affairs Minister Juliari Batubara who was only sentenced to 12 years in jail. Yet Batubara reaped huge profits at a time when the ordinary people were being hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Corruption committed when Indonesia is suffering a disaster and misfortune. The national status is one of an emergency. The sentence was slightly heavier than that demanded by the prosecutor but very far from a sense of public justice", he said.
"So the discourse on the death sentence is nothing more than a gimmick, an effort to gain public trust by playing on the issue of the death sentence for corruptors", he said.
Adiputra said that the death sentence is not a solution to preventing or eradicating corruption. Rather than the death sentence, he suggests that law enforcement be improved.
"A death sentence also can't recover the money that was corrupted. It would be better if the law enforcement and corruption eradication system be really improved", he said.
Conflicts with human rights
Regardless of this, Adiputra said that the death sentence cannot be justified as it conflicts with human rights, namely the right to life.
"The right to life is a fundamental right and above all others, it cannot be taken away or reduced under any circumstances. It cannot be taken by force", he said.
According to Adiputra, everyone should have an opportunity for redemption and to make up for their mistakes, so he opposes the stipulations on the death sentence under Article 2 Paragraph 2 of Law Number 31/1999.
If this article is abolished, Adiputra continued, it could be replaced with a life sentence. "The existing article should be removed. In the anti-corruption law it must be replaced with a life sentence", he said.
Attorney General ST Burhanuddin has expressed an interest in applying the death penalty for corruptors despite the rejections from human rights activist. Burhanuddin said that the law provides space for law enforcement officials to apply the penalty.
"On the opposition by human rights activists, we cannot of course just accept this. Throughout the constitution it provides judicial space for this and these crimes in concrete terms seriously harm the nation and the country, so there are no grounds for us to not apply the death penalty", said Burhanuddin during a webinar organised by the General Soedirman University Faculty of Law on Thursday November 18.
KPK Chairperson Firli Bahuri agrees with Burhanuddin's proposal and believes that a special articles needs to be included to support the death sentence.
"I agree. Moreover, I have already conveyed the need to add the article itself so 30 acts of corruption can be subject to the death sentence", said Bahuri after attending a webinar titled "Synergising the Eradication of Narcotics, Corruption and Terrorism", at the Bali regional police headquarters on Wednesday November 24. (yla/fra)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Imparsial: Hukuman Mati Hanya Gimik Jaksa Agung dan Ketua KPK".]