Reynhard and Our Wrecked Judicial System

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  • Reynhard Sinaga, a Indonesian PhD. candidate in United Kingdom who has been sentenced to life imprisonment over rape against 48 male victims. Reynhard conducted his action within the time span of two and a half years from 1 January 2015 up to 2 June 2017.

    Reynhard Sinaga, a Indonesian PhD. candidate in United Kingdom who has been sentenced to life imprisonment over rape against 48 male victims. Reynhard conducted his action within the time span of two and a half years from 1 January 2015 up to 2 June 2017.

    By: Julio Achmadi | Member of the Partnership for Governance Reform

    The world was appalled by the news about Reynhard Sinaga, an Indonesian citizen who was proven in raping 48 men in Manchester, England. Reynhard was brought upon four closed trials, all of which resulted in guilty verdict. In this case, the British prove their loyalty in upholding the principle of a fair trial, rule of law and the protection of privacy.

    When the closed trials began to be held, the court immediately gave a warning to journalists and media about the ban on coverage. Rules of reporting restrictions and contempt of court ban coverage of criminal cases related to decency for the sake of protecting victims who have experienced trauma, keeping the objectivity of the jury, and protecting the privacy of the defendant. This rule instantly applies and leads to the absence of Reynhard's case coverage until the ban was revoked. The British justice system became an ideal example in applying the principle of presumption of innocence.

    The British journalists were obedient to the command of the court and the rules of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), the equivalent of the Press Council in the UK, about the reporting of the trial. Almost all of the British media understand that the vile actions of Reynhard were pure criminals without any connectivity to his sexual orientation. This praiseworthy attitude stops the practice of demonization and generalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community. Once again, the application of the principle of non-discrimination is implemented very well by the British.

    Indonesia as a state under rule of law has a lot to learn and change on its dilapidated criminal justice system, especially in handling the case of decency. Up to date, there are no comprehensive rules regarding the handling of said case. One of the available rules is on closed trial in the Law on Criminal procedure (KUHAP) and the Law on Child Protection.

    The fair trial principle is frequently breached in our judicial system. In the Annual Report 2019, the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute stated there were 56 complaints of 222 seekers of justice for violation of the fair trial.

    The case of the Jakarta International School (JIS) in March 2014 was an example that the protection of the privacy of defendants is not assured. As a result, social sanction has already happened even though the court ruling has yet to be decided. The presumption of innocence principle is breached.

    The principle of the closed trial should govern the prohibition of disclosure of any information by law enforcement officers, parties related in the proceedings and their family, as well as the witnesses. The absence of this regulation opens the arena of mass judgment. The case of Vanessa Angel is also proof that our criminal justice system can not protect personal data of the parties associated with a case of decency.

    Reynhard's action is a terrible crime and he should be punished proportionally. But his case shows the urgency of revamping the criminal justice system in Indonesia as it is still underdeveloped in comparison to the UK, even though the two have different legal systems-Indonesia with the system of European Continental and England with Anglo Saxon.

    Indonesia needs to fix its law so it can really carry out the mandate of Article 1, paragraph 3 of the 1945 Indonesian Constitution which stipulated that Indonesia is a country based on the rule of law. Revamping can be done in several aspects. First, creating the rule in handling case of decency starting from the beginning of the criminal proceeding process, namely from the police, the prosecutor's office, to the judiciary. The police need to evaluate the Regulation of the Chief of Police Number 8 of 2009 regarding Implementation of the Principles and Standards of Human Rights in the Implementation of the Tasks of the Police and add the article the protection of privacy and personal data in the process of inquiry and investigation.

    The prosecutor's office must establish a Regulation of the Attorney General on Guidelines In Handling Case of Decency which regulates the principle of confidentiality of the victim and defendant in the process of prosecution. The Supreme court can issue the Decree of the Head of Supreme Court on Guidelines about Handling Case of Decency that governs the procedure on cases of decency for the judges, including the rules on coverage prohibition by journalists and guidelines for the implementation of closed trial that induce human rights perspective.

    Second, the government has to be serious in providing protection to victims of sexual violence, both women and men. Protection can be given through the ratification of the Draft Law on Elimination of Sexual Violence and the Draft Law on Protection of Personal Data with the involvement of civil society and academics.

    Third, the media must make serious improvements on the way of reporting cases of morality by promoting objectivity, integrity, and professionalism, not discrimination and sensationalism. A biased news piece which corner minority groups will become a tool to create disputes and the justification for minority groups persecution. Media companies need to make internal policies related to reporting a case of decency with the application of perspective of victims and non-discriminatory principles. Increasing the capacity of journalists also needs to be done to improve the quality of news coverage.



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