INDONESIA: Two Ministers arrested in anti-graft cases, Has Law-enforcement improved?

When the Pandemic COVID 19 hit Indonesia in May 2020, Law-enforcement in Indonesia recorded a unique phenomenon. The Minister of Law and Human Rights, Mr. Yasona Laoly, released 30,000 prisoners! 1

On Tuesday, March 31, 2020, the Indonesian Minister of Law and Human Rights, Mr. Yasonna, issued Ministerial Decree Number M.HH-19.PK.01.04.04 of 2020, concerning the Release of Prisoners. In addition to the Ministerial Decree, the Indonesian Ministry of Law and Human Rights also issued Regulation Number 10 of 2020. This concerned the Conditions for Providing Assimilation and Integration Rights for Prisoners and Children. These regulations become an Umbrella Law which contains provisions for assimilation as well as the integration of prisoners into the community.

Meanwhile, the Government, through the Ministry of Law and Human Rights made the following claim. The release of 30,000 prisoners is part of the Government’s efforts to prevent further transmission of the Pandemic COVID 19.

Whether or not the policy of the Minister proves to be effective in preventing further transmission of the Coronavirus remains to be seen…..? Facts in the field show that the development of the COVID-19 transmission rate is an increasing cause of worry. Up to January 6, 2021, there were 788,402 cases, 652,513 recoveries, and 23,296 deaths2 recorded.

This policy is controversial considering that the release of prisoners could trigger new problems. They could be repeating the same crimes or committing new crimes because released prisoners will face economic problems due to the pandemic Covid 193.

Even though the Government released thousands of prisoners, the arrests and detention of those who criticized and opposed the Government still occurred. The following are examples. The case of the arrest of 8 activists of the Coalition for the Action to Save Indonesia (KAMI). Three (3) of them named as suspects were detained in Police custody in the Jakarta Metropolitan Police Office. Then, there were the three cases of Jerinx SID, Nur Sugi, Muhamad Rizieq Sihab.

Previously, KAMI had objected to the arrest of eight people affiliated with the movement for allegedly spreading hate speech and violating the Electronic Information and Transactions Law (ITE).

Previously, KAMI had targeted the arrest and detention of eight people affiliated with the movement. They allegedly spread hate speech. And, they violated the Electronic Information and Transaction Law (ITE) which occurred during the mass public protest against the Job Creation Law. 
Moreover, there are also other cases of arrest and detention of people who criticized the Government in dealing with the pandemic COVID 19. For instance, the case of I. Gede Ari Astina, better known as Jerinx or JRX. He is an Indonesian musician, singer and songwriter, and drummer of “the Bali-based rock group Superman Is Dead.”

Jerinx wrote “Because they’re proud of being the WHO’s flunkey’s, the IDI and HOSPITALS arbitrarily mandated that anyone about to give birth be tested for COVID 19”. Jerinx wrote this on his Instagram account, @jrxsid, on June 13, 2020…..“There is so much evidence that the test results are inaccurate, so why force it? But if the test causes stress or death for the baby or mother, who will take responsibility?” 

Furthermore, these people were also arrested during the pandemic COVID 19 period. One is, Mr. Nur Sugi. He allegedly delivered hate speech against the Biggest Islamic Organization known Nahdatlul Ulama.

Subsequently, the Jakarta Metropolitan Police also detained Muhammad Rizieq Sihab, the leader of the Islamic Defender Front (FPI). Rizieq was detained along with his five followers. The Police charged them under Articles 160 and 216 of the Criminal Code.

Article 160 regulates the incitement of criminal acts with a maximum sentence of 6 years imprisonment. Article 216 regulates the obstruction of Law Enforcement. The perpetrator can be sentenced for up to four months in prison.

So far, since Indonesia established the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in 2003, the Commission has arrested and detained many Government officials, together with Parliamentary members, including Ministers.

In December 2020, two Ministers of President Joko Widodo’s cabinet were arrested and detained by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). The KPK detained Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo and the Minister of Social Affairs, Juliari Batubara. Minister Juliari had been named as a suspect in a graft case involving the distribution of COVID 19 social aid.

Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman, Mr. Firli Bahuri said during a Sunday morning press conference that Juliari, along with his subordinates Matheus Joko Santoso and Adi Wahyono, had purportedly accepted roughly Rp 12 billion (US$582,020) in bribes. They came from a number of suppliers during the first wave of the ministry’s aid distribution earlier in the year.

In total, the Corruption Eradication Commission named five people suspected of bribery related to the distribution of COVID 19 aid for Jakarta and the cities around Jakarta.

The arrest and detention of the two Ministers brings with it the message that the cases should bring about momentous changes for Indonesia.

However, whether or not Law-enforcement in Indonesia will show improved changes is up for speculation. Of course, it depends on the Government itself. If the Government, in the person of President Joko Widodo, is brave enough, he can change the situation. He can REFORM all regulations and Laws contrary to International Human Rights Instruments ratified by Indonesia.