A number of lawyers and legal experts affiliated to the Coalition of Civil Society for Reform of the Criminal Law Procedures Code (KUHAP) have recommended several changes in the bill to amend KUHAP, particularly the articles relating to compensation for people who are falsely accused, arguing that the articles are inconsistent and could lead to miscarriages of justice.
The coalition, comprising representatives of several NGOs, including the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta), the Legal Aid Foundation of Indonesian Women's Association for Justice (LBH APIK), the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) and the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI), highlighted Article 128, paragraph 5 of the bill, currently being deliberated at the House of Representatives, saying that it would annul the right of victims of false accusations or wrongful conviction to receive compensation.
The article states that defendants who are acquitted after being arrested and detained cannot claim compensation. Cases of false accusation, lawyer Johanes Gea said at a recent discussion in Central Jakarta, had caused victims mental harm and had tarnished their reputations so, it was incumbent on the police and government to rehabilitate them.
As an example, Johanes cited the case of Dedi, an ojek (motorcycle taxi) driver who was wrongly convicted and imprisoned for 10 months for his alleged role in an attack on a minivan driver near the a shopping center in Cililitan, East Jakarta.
'If the bill had applied to Dedi, he could not have demanded any compensation, whereas he actually had the right to that,' Johanes said.
Similarly in 2014, Krisbayudi spent eight months in prison falsely accused of murder. The 29-year-old man's imprisonment meant he had difficulty finding work as the stigma of murder still attached to him.
The coalition also found other inconsistencies in the bill. While paragraph 5 states that victims may not claim compensation, paragraphs 1 and 4 stipulate the opposite and mention that the government will pay compensation.
'Which one is correct?' Johanes asked. 'Such statements are confusing. No wonder our legal process takes too long and very often incriminates the powerless.'
He also pointed to the amount of compensation, saying that the government should no longer use Government Regulation No. 27/1983 on the implementation of the Criminal Code, which ordered the state to pay only Rp 1 million (US$71) as maximum compensation.
In Krisbayudi's case, the North Jakarta District Court ordered the state to pay him a mere Rp 1 million in compensation. Johanes said that when the government regulation was drawn up in 1983, the price of gold was around Rp 750 per gram, while the rupiah's conversion rate was Rp 1,000 per US dollar, totally different from the current gold price of Rp 498,483 per gram and the dollar's value of more than Rp 14,000.
That meant that the amount was too little and did not cover material and non-material losses suffered by victims of wrongful accusation or conviction. 'Judges must have the right to calculate the amount of compensation. There should be no need to rely on an out-of-date regulation,' Johanes said.
Romy Leo Rinaldo from LBH Jakarta, who was Dedi's lawyer, said that the government should give more serious consideration to compensation for victims of wrongful conviction or arrest.
'[The proposed changes] are for the sake of the country's legal process so that such cases will not happen again. In Dedi's case, the police and government didn't even say sorry to him for their mistake,' Romy said.
He added that instead of focusing on hunting the true suspects, reportedly seven men who had not been arrested, the East Jakarta District Court filed an appeal to the Supreme Court against the Jakarta High Court's decision to acquit Dedi.
'The police should be more professional and not make it difficult for the powerless to access their legal rights,' Romy said. (foy)