At a time when public confidence in and respect for the nation’s police, prosecutors and judges remains at rock bottom due to perceived high levels of corruption and failings to clamp down on elite elements engaged in wrongdoings, it is pitiful that these institutions continue to waste both their time and state money on frivolous cases.
The latest irrational dossier that police have handed to prosecutors involves a teenage boy who stole a mere Rp1,000 (11 US cents) last year after snatching a handbag. The case was tried at Denpasar District Court, where prosecutors called for a seven-month jail term for the boy but the judge released him to his family after being held at Kerobokan Prison ahead of proceedings. It follows a bizarre trial in Sulawesi in which a sandal thief was prosecuted in a case that drew national disbelief and scorn for the authorities. Last year saw a string of such time-wasting trials, including that of a banana thief in Java.
Children’s rights organisations including the National Commission for Child Protection were right this week to criticise the police and prosecutors for their actions against the then 14-year-old boy who stole what amounts to very small change.
Reforms of all institutions of authority in this country are vital. They remain mired in scandal. And they have real work to do, not least in ridding Indonesia of the terrorist scourge that has so bedevilled it this past decade and which continues to ferment in various islands of the archipelago. Just this week major terrorist trials opened in Jakarta.
Public officials such as prosecutors and judges must never feel they are immune to public sentiment, for it is the people that they ultimately serve, and therefore, if a seemingly nonsensical case appears before a court, with little merit of prosecution and especially one involving a minor, judges must be mindful of recent events that led to public irritation and throw the case out.Filed under: Editorial