Current Draft Revisions Show Tendencies for Overcriminalization: ICJR


JANUARY 26, 2018

Jakarta. The Institute of Criminal Justice Reform, or ICJR, warned on Thursday (25/01) that current draft revisions of the criminal code reflect tendencies for overcriminalization that could lead to violations of human rights and stressed that lawmakers should carefully deliberate any proposed changes.

Speaking at a press conference in Jakarta, ICJR managing director Erasmus Napitupulu said there are still issues with the current draft revisions, such as the lack of clarity on the "living law" article, which will likely affect marginalized groups with less access to justice the most.

"When the state utilizes the criminal code to control its people and scatter the threat of penalties profusely to scare off citizens, then we must be ready to call out the violations of human rights," Erasmus said.

Although the government sought to revise the criminal code to replace regulations from the Dutch colonial era, Erasmus noted that the draft revisions are "actually the same and did not show improvement" from the old law.

Furthermore, the government has yet to adequately explain the ambiguity of some of the content. This is evident with an article that is considered the most crucial, which emphasizes that the draft revisions should not rule out the existence of living law in Indonesian society.

"The government was unable to explain what they mean with 'living law in society,' [or] what it looks like. It’s unclear, but because it’s considered 'Indonesian,' the article has made it to the draft revisions of the criminal code," Erasmus said.

He added that what is more worrying is how ongoing discussions at the House of Representatives are leaning toward letting district governments decide on their own how violations of "living law" will be criminalized.

"This means that we will have a fragmented criminal code at the district level … What’s even more dangerous is that this will diminish Indonesia’s vision to become more united, as different districts will have their own perspectives on how the law should be in the country," Erasmus said.

The House of Representatives is currently aiming to have the draft revisions finalized by February.

In a statement issued on Jan. 14, the National Alliance for Criminal Code Reform renounced a hurried adoption of the draft revisions.

Still, there are other issues that must be addressed, including excessive punishments as well as unclear distribution and framing of punishments, which will consequently result in overcriminalization. According to the Alliance, the House still needs to assess the rationale behind each punishment.

"The Alliance is urging the government to strengthen their way of framing the punishment, which the government has yet to formulate until this point," Erasmus said.