JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN): President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo has signed off on a government regulation that provides guidelines on a mechanism for the chemical castration of convicted child rapists, after the House of Representative passed a law authorising the punishment in 2016.
The regulation, inked by Jokowi on Dec 7, also details other forms of punishment for convicted child sex offenders, such as publicly revealing the offenders’ identity and electronically monitoring offenders through implanted chips after their release from prison.
Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko said the regulation would provide legal certainty on punishments against child sex offenders and claimed it would greatly benefit the public.
"The government regulation actually benefits Indonesian citizens a lot, as it provides certainty in non-judicial efforts to curb [sexual assault against minors]," he said on Monday, as reported by kompas.com.
With the regulation in place, the government aims to offer better child protections, especially from the risk of sexual violence.
"[Sexual violence] has caused great unrest among the public, especially when the victims are children. As such, the state must provide extra tight protections," he said.
The practice of chemical castration involves administering anti-androgenic drugs that aim to reduce sexual interest, fantasies and sexual arousal among known offenders, according to medical experts.
The effects are temporary and would supposedly wear off if the treatment, administered usually once every three months, is discontinued.
However, medical experts have stated that this procedure could produce various side effects including osteoporosis, anaemia, cardiovascular disease and cognitive impairment – raising concerns among some human rights advocates.
Government Regulation No.70/2020 stipulates that convicted sex offenders may only undergo chemical castration for a maximum of two years.
The punishment would only be carried out after the convicted offender concludes their prison sentence.
The offender must also undergo medical and psychological assessments before being subjected to castration, with experts determining whether or not the procedure is feasible for them.
According to the regulation, child sex offenders who qualify for chemical castration are those whose victims had died, those who assaulted more than one child, those who spread sexually transmitted diseases or have caused severe injuries, mental disorders and reproductive function impairment in their victims.
A commissioner at the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI), Retno Listyarti, applauded the government’s decision to issue the regulation, saying it would help in the handling of such criminal cases.
"[The regulation] will give legal certainty and serve as a guideline for prosecutors to carry out court verdicts," she said.
Nahar, the deputy for child protections at the Women's Empowerment and Child Protections Ministry, also praised the regulation for offering a way to deter known convicts from repeat offences.
"We warmly welcome the President’s regulation and hope that it will have a deterrent effect on sexual predators," Nahar said in a statement on Monday.
Sexual violence against children continued to be a serious problem in the country, he went on, with the Online Information System for the Protection of Women and Children (Simfoni PPA) recording 5,640 cases of child sex abuse from Jan 1 to Dec 11 last year.
The issuance of the regulation, however, is not without its detractors.
Amnesty International Indonesia’s media and campaign manager, Nurina Savitri, said chemical castration was cruel and ineffective in curbing sexual violence against children.
“The sexual abuse of children is indescribably horrific, but subjecting offenders to chemical castration or execution is not justice; it is adding one cruelty to another," she said in a statement on Monday.
"It violates the International Human Rights Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.”
Nurina noted that since the House of Representatives authorised the use of chemical castration in 2016, the number of sexual violence cases against minors in the country had in fact gone up and not down.
In 2019, she said, the Witness and Victims Protection Agency (LPSK) reported 350 cases of sexual violence against minors, significantly higher than 25 cases in 2016.
"The government should focus on passing the highly anticipated sexual violence bill instead," Nurina said
A member of House Commission VIII overseeing social affairs, Diah Pitaloka, said the practice of chemical castration as a punishment should also be coupled with the comprehensive prevention of sexual abuse.
Diah said psychological rehabilitation was also necessary for offenders who were chemically castrated, in addition to the sex abuse victims themselves.
"[This is] so the punishment may really deter convicts from repeating the crime. A more detailed regulation is also needed, [which would stipulate] who would be authorised to carry out chemical castration, what kind of drug is to be used, etc.," Diah said.
Since the Chemical Castration Law was passed, only one sex offender has been handed this punishment, namely a resident of Mojokerto, East Java named Muh. Aris.
Aris was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment and chemical castration in August 2019, after he was found guilty of raping nine children.
Besides Indonesia, there are at least seven other countries that use chemical castration as a punishment, including Ukraine, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Russia, Poland and several individual states in the United States.