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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: Indonesia releases more than 5,500 inmates, plans to free 50,000

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, April 1, 2020   /   04:10 pm
COVID-19: Indonesia releases more than 5,500 inmates, plans to free 50,000 An inmate speaks to a family member via video call at a prison in Blitar, East Java, on March 17, after visits were stopped for two weeks amid concerns of a COVID-19 outbreak. (AFP/STR)

The authorities have granted more than 5,500 prisoners early release to help prevent a possible surge in coronavirus infections in Indonesia’s overcrowded prisons.

Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly said on Wednesday during a virtual meeting with the House of Representatives Commission III overseeing legal affairs that he had raised the number of prisoners that were planned to be released to 50,000 people from 30,000. "As of today, at 11 a.m. according to our SDP [Correctional Database System], we have released 5,556 prisoners," he said.

"As of today, at 11 a.m. according to our SDP [Correctional Database System], we have released 5,556 prisoners," he said.

According to Yasonna, the ministry has two legal bases for the release, namely Human Rights Ministerial Regulation No. 10/2020 on terms and conditions of assimilation and integration for prisoners and juvenile inmates to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as Human Rights Ministerial Decree No. 19/2020 on the release of prisoners and juvenile inmates through assimilation and integration to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We are monitoring the developments hourly through our system. We hope there will be no moral hazard," he said, adding that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo agreed with the regulations.

Yasonna said the 50,000 inmates eligible for early release included some 15,442 drug convicts that had served five to 10 years in prison, 300 graft inmates aged 60 years and above, 1,457 special crime convicts with chronic diseases and 53 foreign prisoners who had served two-thirds of their sentences.

He said he had also asked the Supreme Court to reduce the number of convicts it sent to prison. 

Read also: Overcrowded and understaffed, prisons scramble to protect inmates from infection

"Therefore, with these efforts, we can gradually release about 50,000 inmates and the number could increase, especially if the police and the Supreme Court can reduce the number of new inmates from the usual 2,500 per day."

Yasonna and the House have also agreed to restart deliberations on a revision to the Criminal Code (KUHP) bill and the 1995 law on correctional procedures, which had been postponed following mass public protests against the House’s legislative agenda following the passing of revisions to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Law.

"Please notice that the government is committed to continuing the deliberation of these two bills. We do not disagree about the bills," he said.

He added that he would ask the President to send a new presidential letter to ask the House to restart discussions of the bills.

The lawmakers and the government had previously concluded deliberations of the two bills.

However, in September 2019, tens of thousands of university students in Jakarta and other cities across the country took to the streets to demand lawmakers hold off the passage of several controversial bills, including the two bills, arguing that the KUHP bill, in particular, posed a threat to democracy and civil rights.

Anticorruption activists had also warned that the correctional procedures bill, which would technically remove hurdles for corruption convicts to receive remissions and conditional releases, was a “gift” to graft convicts, including those who were currently serving sentences.


If you want to help in the fight against COVID-19, we have compiled an up-to-date list of community initiatives designed to aid medical workers and low-income people in this article. Link: [UPDATED] Anti-COVID-19 initiatives: Helping Indonesia fight the outbreak