End Parole for Graft Convicts: ICW


JANUARY 06, 2015

Jakarta. Indonesia’s most prominent antigraft advocacy group called on Monday for law enforcers to insist on the revocation of corruption suspects’ political rights and their right to parole.

Laola Ester, a researcher at Indonesia Corruption Watch, said the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the Attorney General’s Office could include these measures in their sentencing demands in court.

“Aside from recommending a prison sentence, a fine or asset seizure, prosecutors and the KPK can also recommend that certain of the convicted person’s rights, such as a sentence cut or parole, be revoked or suspended,” she said.

Sentence cuts and parole for corruption convicts have been sources of controversy, particularly since Indonesia’s penal system does not distinguish between white-collar criminals and the rest of the prison population.

This makes white-collar convicts more eligible for parole or sentence cuts, since correctional officers often apply the same standard for “good behavior” meant for hardened criminals.

This includes criteria such as “never instigating riots,” “not fighting with other inmates,” or other behaviors associated with the common prison population.

Laola argued that law enforcers had the right to make such recommendations to the court, pointing to Article 18 of the Anti-Corruption Law.

The article states that prosecutors can recommend “additional injunctions” from the court, which includes the revocation or suspension of certain rights.

“The article allows corruption convicts to be barred from getting sentence cuts or parole. Even convicts’ rights to a pension, if they are public officials, can be revoked,” she said.

Another source of contention is the large number of former corruption convicts running for public office and seats in legislative councils, which will be eliminated if law enforcers recommend the revocation of the convicts’ political rights.

Laola said only corruption suspects who agreed to work with law enforcers to unravel bigger cases or net higher-ranking officials deserve to be paroled or have their sentences reduced.

In 2012, the Justice Ministry issued a regulation limiting a corruption convict’s right to parole and sentence cuts amid a public outcry.

However, the ministry broke its own regulation and the practice was allowed to continue.

The ineffectiveness of the regulation, Laola said, was due to an implementing guideline, issued by the same ministry a year later, that stated that the regulation would only apply to those convicted after the regulation was enacted.

Laola said this created confusion among prison officials across Indonesia.

“The guideline opens another opportunity for corruption convicts to receive sentence cuts and parole,” she said.

Among the controversial cases of parole the government had granted corruption convicts is that of businesswoman Hartarti Murdaya, who was jailed for bribing a district head in exchange for a plantation permit in March 2013, three months after the regulation was enacted.

Hartarti was paroled in September last year, having served just 18 months of a 32-month sentence.

The justice minister at the time, Amir Syamsuddin, admitted the parole was inconsistent with both the 2012 regulation and the 2013 guideline, but argued that Hartarti had been considered by the KPK to be a “justice collaborator” — which the KPK denied.

The minister was then forced to find another excuse for granting Hartarti’s parole, saying later that she was released due to her “advanced age.” Hartati was 68 when she was released.

Amir and Hartati both served on the Democratic Party’s board of advisers before the latter resigned after being charged in the bribery case.

Hartati was also a key financier of Democrat chairman and then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s 2009 re-election campaign.