INDONESIA: Judges grant probation to prison guards involved in torture

The Padang Legal Aid Institute (LBH Padang) informed the AHRC that the judgment on the case of torture against Riko Yeyandra was delivered by Solok District Court on 17 February 2014. A panel of judges – consisting of Justices Dadi Suryandi, Lola Oktavia, and Nani Pratiwi – found Masria Siswanto and Dedi Bahari guilty of maltreatment under Article 351 (1) in conjunction with Article 55 (1) of the Penal Code. As earlier reported in AHRC-UAC-136-2013, Masria Siswanto and Dedi Bahari are prison guards of Solok Correctional Facility who beat and electrocuted Riko Yeyandra on 8 September 2013.
Despite finding the prison guards guilty of maltreatment and sentencing them to one year of imprisonment, the judges granted them two years probation. This means both convicted men do not need to serve the one year of imprisonment. They only have to serve such punishment if they commit another crime within the two year probation period. The judges failed to cite any aggravating factors in the criminal act of the two men but instead, cited three mitigating factors which led to the lenient punishment of Masria and Dedi. The three factors are: (a) Masria and Dedi were polite during the hearings and confessed their wrongdoing; (b) they expressed remorse and promised that they would not commit a similar wrongdoing, and (c) they are both the main providers of their families.
No information is available on whether the case is pending at the High Court level.
The AHRC deplores the judgment delivered by Solok District Court on this case and is of the view that the punishment imposed on the perpetrators is not adequate. We believe that such judgment fails to provide a deterrent effect and therefore indirectly perpetuates the practice of torture in Indonesia.
The AHRC sees that the lenient punishment was based on a misleading logic deliberately constructed by the judges in the judgment, numbered 68/Pid.B/2013/PN Slk. In their consideration, the judges emphasised that the torture was perpetrated by the prison guards as Riko had breached the correctional facility’s rules by accepting a visitor outside visiting hours. The judges additionally emphasised that Riko had previously breached the correctional facility’s rules at least twice by being involved in gambling and possessing a cellular phone.
The AHRC does not intend to justify the breach of rules committed by Riko. However, we firmly believe that the breach cannot and should not be provoked as the reason to justify torture or to impose lenient punishment on the perpetrators of such abuse. In accordance with the international human rights law, the 1945 Indonesian Constitution, as well as the Law No. 39 year 1999 on Human Rights, the right to freedom from torture is an absolute right. It should not be derogated in any circumstances. Instead of being subjected to beatings and electrocution, Riko was therefore supposed to be disciplined by an official mechanism for breaching the rules of the correctional facilities.