Indonesia’s medical association said Thursday its members would refuse to administer chemical castration for child sex offenders, giving another blow to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s emergency decree issued last month allowing such punishment.
The Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) distanced themselves from the policy, although they said they shared Jokowi’s views that sexual offence against children is an extraordinary crime and supported policies that impose tougher punishment for child rape.
“With the additional punishment such as chemical castration that suggests assigning doctors as executors, IDI asked, based on the Honorary Council of Medical Ethics’ fatwa, which also refers to the Doctor ‘s Oath and Indonesian Doctors’ Code of Ethics, that its implementation does not involve doctors as executor,” IDI chairman Ilham Oetama Marsis said in the statement.
Ilham suggested the government seek other forms of additional punishment, saying scientific evidence showed chemical castration did not reduce predators’ sexual drives.
According to the new regulation in lieu of law, chemical castration will be carried out against an offender for a period of up to two years after the convict has undergone a prison term. Offenders below the age of 18 are not subject to this punishment.
Rights activists lauded the doctors’ stance, saying that the policy was made prematurely and without thorough consultations with various stakeholders including psychiatric and medical experts.
“IDI’s statement is a real blow for the government. The government’s choice to make this decision without further study and analysis and without involving those with medical and psychiatric competencies was a fatal move,” head of rights advocacy group Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), Supriyadi Widodo Eddyono said.
Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) said IDI’s statement showed mounting refusal to this policy was not without grounds and it should serve as a lesson to the government to open public participation in its policy making, so that the policy could touch on the real problems on the ground and executable.
“We reaffirmed that our refusal to chemical castration does not mean we tolerate sexual offences. Such crimes, especially against children, should be banished and severely punished but it doesn’t mean that we have to disregard human rights and human values,” said Muhammad Hafiz, executive director of HRWG.
The government regulation in lieu of law, or Perppu would be an amendment to the 2002 Child Protection Law, which punished child sex offenders by up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of 300 million rupiah. It stipulates child sex offenders who cause their victims to suffer serious injuries, mental disorders, infectious diseases, the loss or malfunction of the reproductive organs and/or death to have additional, tougher punishment, which includes forced chemical castration.
The National Commission on Child Protection (Komnas Anak) had campaigned for such a decree, saying that Indonesia is in a state of emergency with regard to child sex abuse. The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) data showed that the number of child abuse cases significantly jumped from 2,178 cases in 2011 to 5,066 cases in 2014.
The House of Representatives is yet to deliberate the Perppu before it is passed into law, but Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly has said that the Perppu is effective immediately after it was signed by the president.