A man who reported illegal mining was jailed and fined hundreds of millions. A blow for the anti-corruption movement.
The terrible fate of Jono (like many Indonesians, he only uses one name) should never have happened. He had the courage to report illegal mining practices in his region. But now he has been jailed and fined hundreds of millions of rupiah because of his report. The former head of the East Kalimantan Mining and Energy Service should have been entitled to legal protection.
The law enforcement authorities have ignored the legal principle of protection for whistleblowers. Everyone from the police investigators to the Supreme Court justices disregarded the immunity available for those making reports as provided for in the Witness and Victim Protection Law. Article 10 of this law states that witnesses, victims and those who file reports cannot be prosecuted under criminal or civil law for their reports or other testimony that will be, is being or has been given.
Jono should have been thanked for his reporting of alleged illegal coal mining by Pasir Prima Coal Indonesia in North Penajam Paser Regency. He reported the company owned by Hengky Wijaya Oey for mining in a region where it did not have a permit, did not pay royalties and other fees and was not filling in sites no longer used. Jono behaved differently from the majority of people in government who cover up transgressions in their regions. They do not have the nerve to speak up, and-in some cases-even decide to take the bribes offered.
The East Kalimantan police force from the outset did not take Jono’s report seriously. It is still not clear what action the police have been taking despite Jono’s repeated checks on the report’s progress. His efforts to ask the National Police Headquarters Criminal Detective Agency to monitor the report have come to nothing.
On the contrary, the police acted very quickly when Pasir Prima Coal subsequently reported Jono for falsifying a mining permit for another company, Mandiri Sejahtera Energindo. This company replaced Pasir Prima Coal, whose permit was revoked for alleged illegal mining and non-payment of royalties.
Less than two months after receiving the report, the police named Jono a suspect. This seems rather arbitrary given that the report was only based on a statement from one of Jono’s subordinates. With such biased testimony, the Grogot District Court should have acquitted Jono, not jailed him for seven months.
Not long after this verdict, the police issued a written order halting the investigation into the case of Jono’s superior, North Penajam Paser Regent Andi Harahap, based on the same report from Pasir Prima Coal, despite the court finding that every action by and policy from Jono regarding the issuing of the mining permit was on the orders of the regent. Here, the police ignored the principle of equality before the law.
The 57-year-old civil servant, who is to retire next January, will not only have to serve seven months in jail, but also pay compensation of Rp200 billion as a result of a civil suit brought by Pasir Prima Coal as ruled by the Supreme Court. The panel of judges headed by Soltono Mohdally ignored the appeal ruling by the administrative court that found problems with the mining permit issued to Pasir Prima Coal.
As the last bastion of justice, the Supreme Court should grant the judicial review requested by Jono, so he can be acquitted of the charge of falsifying the Mandiri Sejahtera Energindo mining permit. Apart from his status as a whistleblower who must be protected, the appeal ruling by the State Administrative Court stated that the Mandiri Sejahtera mining permit was issued in accordance with the law.
If we failed to protect Jono, then others will be afraid to report wrongdoing in the future.