Mercy Urged for Child Charged in Jakarta Murder

The National Commission for Child Protection on Wednesday said it was working hard to save a 10-year-old boy, suspected of having stabbed and beaten his adoptive mother to death, from serving up to 15 years in jail. East Jakarta Police investigators have said the child, who is originally from Nias and is an orphaned survivor of the 2004 tsunami in Aceh, may face charges for violating the 2004 law on domestic violence. The boy’s adoptive mother, Etty Rochyati, 55, was found dead in a ditch near her house in Ciracas, East Jakarta, in October. She had been found with multiple blows on the head possibly due to being beaten with a blunt instrument and a stab wound to the stomach. According to police, the boy said Etty had threatened to kick him out of the house if he did not obey her, and told him, “Don’t you know that you have no more mother and father?” Arist Merdeka Sirait, secretary general of the commission, also known as Komnas Anak, said the charge and the law on which it was based was inappropriate. If tried, he said, the boy should only be charged with the Criminal Code article on violence leading to death. The charge carries a sentence of up to 10 years but under the Child Protection Law, minors may only serve a third of the sentence, he said. Arist also argued that police investigators had failed to take into consideration the regular maltreatment of the child by his adoptive mother. “What the boy did may be seen as self-defense against abuse and was not intentional,” he said. “If the boy is still threatened with a 15-year prison sentence, the rule of law in Indonesia has been violated and this runs against what the Justice and Human Rights Ministry has planned for in its first 100-day work program,” Arist said. He added that a memorandum of understanding had been signed by five ministries and the National Police for underage criminal offenders stipulating they no longer be sent to jail but remanded to social institutions instead. Arist said the commission would push for an out-of-court settlement. “We are not dealing with the case of a 22-year-old man but a 10-year-old who is unstable and still has a long life ahead of him,” he said. He also said that Komnas Anak recommended that if the child, whose identity has been withheld, did not face trial, then he should be returned to the care of the state or to social services to get the appropriate psychological counseling. “Underaged criminal offenders should be given restorative justice — meaning giving them back to their parents or to social institutions,” he said. The family of the victim, who Arist said has agreed to drop charges against the boy, will meet with judges of the East Jakarta Court, police investigators, the commission and the Legal Aid Foundation to discuss the best way to move forward with the case.

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