More than 50,000 convicts, including those sentenced for graft, murder and drug running, were granted sentence reductions on Friday in keeping with the country’s Independence Day celebrations.
Among high profile convicts receiving sentence cuts were Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby, former tax official Gayus H. Tambunan, and former Garuda Indonesia pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, who was sentenced for his role in the murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.
Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsudin told reporters on Friday that all inmates were entitled to sentence reductions on occasions such as Independence Day or religious holidays.
“Their rights are guaranteed by the regulation, even graft convicts and terrorists, especially when the inmates are recommended for good behavior. However, we are now working to revise the regulation to apply stringent conditions on those applying for remission,” he said.
With the six month Independence Day remission, Corby could be released sooner if she is granted parole for good behavior in prison.
She was found guilty of smuggling 4.1 kilograms of Marijuana into Bali in 2004, and was sentenced to 20 years behind bars, but was previously granted another five years clemency from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono this year.
The country’s 67th anniversary has also brought blessings to graft convict Gayus, as the former tax official convicted in a large-scale corruption case was granted a four month sentence cut in relation to his 28-year sentence for accepting bribes, failing to report gratuities, money laundering and bribing police officers to escape detention.
In addition to Gayus, Pollycarpus, who was sentenced to 20 years for his involvement in the murder of Munir, was granted a five month sentence reduction, plus a one month and 20 days reduction for so-called positive activities undertaken within the penitentiary.
Human rights groups have criticized the sentence reduction.
Human Rights Working Group’s (HRWG) deputy director Choirul Anam told The Jakarta Post that the remission granted for Pollycarpus violated the government’s commitment to human rights in the country.
“There seems to be an inconsistency between the President, who continuously says that his government is committed to promoting human rights, and the Law and Human Rights Minister, who continuously grants sentence cuts to a murderer of human rights activist,” said Anam.
Pollycarpus had previously received a series of sentence remissions granted for Independence Day and Christmas Day.
The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) recorded that the government had cut Pollycarpus’ jail term by a total of 24.5 months as of September last year, plus another one month and 15 days at Christmas, through seven remission grants since he was sentenced in 2008.
“We call on the President to instruct his minister to stop granting remissions to Pollycarpus until he is willing to help uncover the truth about Munir’s death,” Anam added.