In Indonesia, Rapists of Children Can Be Castrated or Executed

Arie Firdaus
160526_ID_rapist_1000a.jpg Indonesian police escort an underage suspect in the gang rape and killing of a 14-year-old girl for a meeting with the Indonesian Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Children’s Protection in Bengkulu, Sumatra, May 5, 2016.

Under a controversial new presidential decree in Indonesia, convicted rapists of children can be put to death or punished through chemical castration.

Responding to public outrage over last month’s gang rape and killing in Sumatra of a 14-year-old girl by a group of 14 males that included at least seven minors, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Wednesday issued a regulation in lieu of law establishing such harsher penalties for those sex-based crimes, including rapes of adults.

The new regulation also stipulates that convicted rapists can have microchips implanted in their bodies to monitor their whereabouts after they serve out their prison sentences. It also calls for publication of their identities as sexual predators.

“Extraordinary crimes need to be handled in extraordinary ways,” Jokowi said, declaring sexual offenses against children as extraordinary crimes, according to information posted on the Indonesian Cabinet Secretary’s website.

“It is hoped that the new regulation can provide a deterrent effect for potential violators so the number of sexual crimes against children decreases,” Jokowi told reporters in the State Palace.

The regulation also strengthens an existing child protection law by increasing the minimum prison sentence from three years to 10 years. Apart from the possibility of capital punishment or chemical castration, the regulation also adds the possibility of a life sentence for offenders.

The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) echoed the president’s words.

“I think it will have a deterrent effect. A bit radical, but this shows that the state is there to protect children from sexual predators,” commission representative Erlinda told BenarNews on Thursday.

‘Cruel, inhuman punishment’

However, Indonesian human rights advocacy groups are challenging the regulation.

While they agree on harsher punishments for rapists, they view castrating or executing convicted child molesters and rapists as too extreme.

“It’s degrading,” Maneger Nasution, a member of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), told BenarNews. “A penalty, while it is supposed to be a harsh punishment, should make people become better.”

And according to Mariana Aminuddin, a member of the National Commission of Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan), the regulation won’t change the mentality of sex offenders.

“It is only to scare people by using cruel, inhuman punishment,” Mariana told BenarNews. “In fact, since 1998, the government has ratified the convention against torture and other cruel, and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Now, [the government] has done the contrary.”

Komnas Perempuan claims that 70 percent of perpetrators of violence against children and women are family members or close to the victims. Through 2015, it recorded 321,752 reported cases of sexual abuse, which averaged 881 cases per day.

Not retroactive

The new regulation will not apply to those convicted of child molestation or rape before May 25, including the 14 males in the Sumatra gang-rape case and murder who have already been convicted, according to Law and Human Rights Minister Yasoona Laoli.

The regulation also will not apply to underage suspects who are subject to Indonesia’s Juvenile Criminal Justice System Law, he said.

The government will soon send the regulation to the House of Representatives.

“We hope our colleagues will agree with the president and pass it into a law,” the minister told reporters.

Soebagyo Firman, chairman of the legislation division of the House of Representatives, told BenarNews that it had not yet received a copy of the regulation.

“Once we receive it, we will discuss it to determine whether the regulation is complete or not,” he said.


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