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Jakarta Post

House to resume deliberating KUHP bill amid pandemic

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, April 2, 2020   /   11:37 am
House to resume deliberating KUHP bill amid pandemic Hundreds of university students protest the revised Criminal Code (KUHP) on Sept. 23, 2019 at the Senayan legislative complex in Jakarta. (JP/Donny Fernando)

The House of Representatives is set to resume deliberation of the revisions to the Criminal Code (KUHP) and the 1995 Correctional Center Law, at a time when the country is consumed by efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

It plans to restart the deliberation of both bills during a plenary session Thursday afternoon. 

The deliberation of the two bills were postponed in September 2019 following widespread protests led by tens of thousands of university students following the passing of the revised law on the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). The protesters argued that the bills would threaten democracy and curtail civil rights.

Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly and House Commission III overseeing legal affairs agreed to resume deliberating the two bills after the government decided to start releasing inmates to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country's overcrowded prisons.

Read also: House urged to stop controversial omnibus bill deliberation, prioritize COVID-19

The government released over 5,500 inmates on Wednesday to meet its target of releasing about 50,000 inmates.

"Please understand that the government is committed to continue the deliberation of both bills. We don’t disagree on the bills," Yasonna said in a virtual meeting with House Commission III on Wednesday.

The minister added that he would ask President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to submit a new presidential letter (Surpres) instructing the House to restart the deliberation process.

Anticorruption activists have warned that the revision to the 1995 law could be a “gift” for graft convicts, as it would remove technical hurdles for obtaining special remissions, including conditional releases.

The revised law would scrap a 2012 government regulation on the rights of inmates, which stipulates strict criteria for issuing remissions and parole for prisoners convicted of extraordinary crimes, including terrorism and corruption.

House Deputy Speaker and Commission III member Azis Syamsuddin said that the House leadership would meet to discuss the possibility of restarting deliberations without a new Surpres, and announce its decision at the plenary meeting on Thursday.