Jakarta passes regulation to punish child-sex offenders

Rule in lieu of law allows those found guilty to be chemically castrated and includes the death penalty

JAKARTA • The Indonesian Parliament has passed a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) on child protection that allows sex offenders to be chemically castrated despite an outcry from rights activists.

The regulation was given the green light by the House of Representatives following a heated debate yesterday. It was signed by President Joko Widodo in May, following a spate of violent sex crimes against children. It also includes the death penalty. Previously, the maximum sentence for a child-sex offence was 15 years' jail.

Indonesia's Constitution gives the President the right to issue a rule in lieu of law when he determines one is necessitated by an emergency in the country.

Perppu is immediately effective after the President signs it, and Parliament can either let it remain effective or end it within a year after it is issued.

Two of the 10 parties, the Gerindra Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), initially refused to pass the law yesterday but eventually relented. PKS lawmaker Ledia Hanifa said the government had yet to deliberate on details of how the castration penalty would be carried out, as requested by lawmakers.

She also said the new regulation is focused on punishing the perpetrator and neglects the victim.

"The Perppu still lacks concern for the victims, as it focuses only on punishing the perpetrators but neglects to provide compensation, restitution and rehabilitation for victims and their families," Ms Ledia said.

Gerindra lawmaker Rahayau Saraswati said the faction still firmly rejected the Perppu, as it had yet to produce a comprehensive solution to protect children from sexual predators.

But the party agreed to pass the Perppu as long as the House would push for further revision of the 2002 Law on Child Protection.

Support for harsher punishment for child-sex offenders grew after the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl by 14 men in South Sumatra in May. Last October, the body of a nine-year-old girl was found wrapped in cardboard near the Soekarno-Hatta airport outside Jakarta. She had been abused sexually and suffocated.

However, the Perppu has sparked local and international criticism, with rights activists slamming the penalties for going too far.

JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2016, with the headline 'Jakarta passes regulation to punish child-sex offenders'. Print Edition | Subscribe