Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Hamonangan Laoly: integrity is not something That is easy to find
IN less than four years serving as Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Yasonna Hamonangan Laoly has replaced the Warden of Sukamiskin Prison, Bandung, six times.
IN less than four years serving as Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Yasonna Hamonangan Laoly has replaced the Warden of Sukamiskin Prison, Bandung, six times. Last week he replaced Wahid Husein, who took office in March, after he was caught red-handed taking bribes for the sale of luxe prison rooms and signing permits of leave from the prison. He has also fired two of his subordinates at the Regional Office of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights responsible for the untoward practices in Sukamiskin. To Stefanus Pramono on Friday last week, Yasonna explained through telephone about his handling of Sukamiskin.
You have repeatedly replaced the Sukamiskin Prison warden. Why does the problem keep recurring?
To be honest, integrity is not something easy to find. There are people who cannot be bribed with tens of millions, but give them a larger sum and they will succumb. Moreover, most of the inmates there are wealthy, although there are also inmates for corruption cases who used to only be village heads and are not wealthy.
After Tempo’s investigation into prisoners in Sukamiskin in February 2017, what rectifications have you made?
We started by cleaning up house. I replaced Dedi Handoko (the previous warden) with Wahid Husein. I specifically summoned Wahid. I instructed him to obstruct any tipping from the inmates; no more granting of leave permits. I asked him whether he’s up to the task or not, he said he was. I also asked the Head of the Regional Office and the Head of the Correctional Division to keep close monitor so there would be no more problems such as discovered by Tempo.
Do you feel disappointed that the rectifications did not work?
Not only disappointed. It is very humiliating for us. I immediately summoned the heads of the detention centers, heads of the prisons, heads of the regional offices, and heads of divisions of the Indonesian penitentiary yesterday. I reminded them that I will take firm action if ever a violation occurs. I will not protect them.
According to the information we obtained, Wahid was not alone in his act.
It’s very possible there are others involved. If the KPK finds evidence, let them just proceed. I will not protect those people. We have consolidated and we will work in cooperation with the KPK.
What were your first actions after Wahid’s arrest?
The Inspector General came over immediately to conduct inspection. All the officers in Sukamiskin have been removed and replaced. They were all too comfortable over there. I fear they all received money at some point. The gist of it is, we threw everyone out, replaced them with new staff, with fresh people. I have also appointed Tejo Harwanto (former warden of Tanjung Gusta First Class Penitentiary in Medan) after an assessment by five people and involving psychologists from the Air Force.
Had the practice of issuing sick leave permits been going on a long time?
We cannot get in the way of a sick prisoner. If the prisoner dies, we can be prosecuted. But everyone must have a recommendation from the doctor. Referral hospitals cannot accept people if there are no recommendations from a penitentiary doctor. Indeed, people can abuse the permit. We are checking if any of the doctors are involved.
Many people think special prisons for corruptors, like Sukamiskin, are ineffective.
We are evaluating this. I’ve invited experts. I have almost come to the conclusion to redistribute inmates to regional prisons.
Isn’t it harder to keep an eye on corruption convicts held in regional prisons?
In Sukamiskin, they have become very exclusive. If they are in a regional prison, they won’t be able to get the deluxe treatment they got in Sukamiskin. Still, they can’t be integrated with common prisoners. Chances are they’ll be blackmailed.
Why can’t they be placed in remote prisons such as Nusakambangan?
Nusakambangan is for high-risk inmates, prisoners for terrorism and drug cases. Corruptors are not high risk prisoners. They are only high risk for bribing.