INDONESIA: Open Prisons to Reform

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that the detainees and prisoners in Indonesia face serious problems, in particular those related to overcrowding. In the past year, according to the Minister of Law and Human Rights and the Directorate General of Corrections, there are five Indonesian prisons that suffer the most from the problem of overcrowding.

The Bagansiapiapi Prison of Riau Province is known to be the most overcrowded. The real capacity of the prison is only for 89 prisoners; however in total 696 prisoners are detained in the Prison. In other words, the Prison is operating at 710% of capacity. Then there is the Banjarmasin Prison of South Kalimantan, which is the second most overcrowded. The actual capacity of the Prison is only for 366 prisoners, while 2,422 prisoners are being held in this prison. The percentage of overcrowding is 662%. Next comes Bengkalis Prison of Riau Province, which has an actual capacity for 174 prisoners, and currently detains 975 prisoners, i.e. 560% over capacity. The fourth in the list is Tanjung Balai Asahan Prison of North Sumatera Province. It has an actual capacity for 198 prisoners. And, it currently holds 1,037 prisoners, i.e. it operates at 524% of capacity. Lastly, there is Jambi Prison in Jambi Province having an actual capacity of 218 prisoners. It houses 1,091 detainees, i.e. 500% of capacity.

These five prisons are only an example of how miserable is the situation of prisons and detention in Indonesia. The country has approximately 470 prisons with a total capacity of 118,390 prisoners. According to the Center of Detention Studies (CDS), a national human rights NGO advocating prison reform, as of 2 April 2016, the total number of prisoners in Indonesia stood at 182,202, and the corresponding number of prison guards, 31,000.

The AHRC has also learned about a recent case of clashes in the Banceuy Prison, in Bandung, West Java Province, on 23 April 2016. The clashes resulted by the death of one prisoner, namely Mr. Undang Kasim (54). He was found dead a day after the prison guards punished him with solitary confinement. Undang was apparently found guilty of smuggling drugs in the prison.

Previously, there have also been other examples that show how complicated is problem of Indonesia’s prison management. For instance, on 18 March 2016, a prisoner in Bandar Lampung Prison of Lampung Province was found dead after being stabbed in his back, his chest, and his temple, by unknown prisoners. How can a prisoner be stabbed in prison, is a basic question that still lingers.

Moreover, five days after the prisoner was found dead in Lampung Prison, seven prisoners easily escaped from Paledang Prison, Bogor Regency, West Java Province. These cases show that the quantity, quality, and capacity of prison guards in Indonesia needs to be evaluated immediately.

Another example is that of Malabero Prison, Bengkulu Province, where prisoners suddenly clashed with police officers, prison guards, and personnel of National Narcotic Board (BNN) when they tried to transfer one prisoner, namely Edison alias Aseng, a drug dealer, who controls drug smuggling from within the Prison.

Overcrowding of prisons is one of the main causes of prisoner clashes and of other complicated problems that have occurred recently. The detention period for the accused / defendants under the Indonesian Procedure of Penal Code (KUHAP) also contributes to the problem – 34% of the prison population is in pre-detention. Under the Indonesian Law of Criminal Procedure (KUHAP), the law enforcement agencies can detain accused persons for 120 days (Article 29, KUHAP) if the accused is charged with sections involving more than nine years imprisonment, and 60 days for charges involving sections with punishment of less than nine years imprisonment.

So far, the Minister of Law and Human Rights, and subordinates, has been reluctant to implement National Law No. 12/1995 on Correctional Centres, which outlines the possibility of remission for all convicts. This law can be applied to reduce overcrowding of prisons in Indonesia. However, the Government Regulation (PP) No. 99/2012 on procedures and requirements to fulfill inmates’ rights speaks in another tongue when compared with the National Law No. 12/1995. According to the government regulation, remission may not be allowed for those convicted of crimes related to terrorism, narcotics, and psytchotropic drugs, corruption, national security, as well as gross violations of human rights and other serious or transnational crimes occurring in Indonesia.

Considering the complications related to prisons management in Indonesia, the AHRC is calling for the Indonesian government to take immediate action to increase the capacity and quantity of the prisons guards, and also strengthen internal and external oversight if their functioning. The AHRC urges the government to stop detaining accused or convicted persons in the overcrowded prisons. Furthermore, the government and Parliament must immediately revise the Indonesian Law of Criminal Procedure (KUHAP), and, in particular, revise the provision of pre-trial detention that contributes to the overcrowding of prisons in Indonesia. Lastly, the government should provide enough space for independent state commissions, such as the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and Ombudsman to get involved in the oversight of prisons.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-091-2016
Countries : Indonesia,
Issues : Democracy, Inhuman & degrading treatment, Institutional reform, Prison conditions,