ICJR: The JIS Case Trial Must Become an Implementation Model of Child Witness Protection in Accordance with the Juvenile Justice Law

Currently the Jakarta International School (JIS) sexual abuse case is ongoing in the South Jakarta Court. And since the last two weeks witnesses examination are conduted including witnesses that are categorized as a child or more commonly known as child witness. The plan is on 7 October 2014, the trial will continue with an agenda to examine child witnesses that will be conducted in a closed trial in the South Jakarta Distric Court. Both witnesses are a key witness that deserved the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) protection.

Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) asseses that in this case, child witnesses examination should be performed in accordance with the Juvenile Justice Law (SPPA Law) that recently come into effect since this July 2014. Supriyadi Widodo Eddyono, the Executive Director of ICJR supports the examination model that is in accordance with SPPA Law, and states that the JIS case trial can become an example for examining child witness for all trials in the Indonesia’s criminal courts. “This is a good example since the statements of child witnesses should be taken in a closed trial so that the child is protected. This practice should also be conducted in other cases that involved children as a witness,” he said.

Child witness protection in a court at least has been regulated under the SPPA Law. Pursuant to Article 1 number 2 of the SPPA Law, a child who faces the law is a child who is in conflict with the law, a child that became a victim of a criminal act, and a child who became a witness of a criminal act. Based on Article 54 of the SPPA Law, the judge examines child case in a trial that is declared as closed for the public. This examination is of course not only related with a child defendant, but also examination that reaches child witnesses in all criminal cases.

The plan for the trial of JIS case will be conducted in closed in accordance with the LPSK’s recommendations. ICJR positively supports the will of the Judge and Public Prosecutor that have been pushing for a more concrete implementation of the SPPA Law. By permiting a child witness being examined without the present of an adult. “the Judge and Public Prosecutor in this case should be appreciated, and also the LPSK for pushing to use child protection mechanism in the court,” said Supriyadi Widodo.

But ICJR also deplores the fact that in a lot of other cases, the Judge and Public Prosecutor have not conducting the same thing as planed in the JIS case. According to Supriyadi, many law enforcer apparatus neglated the closed examination mechanism for child witness, “we stongly criticized the Judges and Public Prosecutors who forget or pretend to forget that stipulations in the SPPA Law are not only apply for a trial that has a child as its defendant. The SPPA Law clearly states that every child witneses must be examined in closed room,” he asserted.

According to him, there are several cases that show different opinions among Judges and Public Prosecutors, as an example in the High School 3 Jakarta torture case, in which the child witness is examined in an open court, since the Public Prosecutor insisted that the defendant is an adult.

Because of this, ICJR is recommending Judges and Public Prosecutors should re-read properly the SPPA Law dan supports the making of a guideline and the same understanding among law enforcers including Judges related with the important of protection for child witness. Because child witness is different with an adult in general, in general a child still needs special treatment as a base for protecting the child’s interests.

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