Corruption allegations against public prosecutors in Manokwari highlight shortcomings in Indonesian justice system

A case of corruption and misconduct involving prosecutors and administrative officers at the Manokwari District Attorney’s Office in the Papua Barat Province (see photo, source: Jubi) showcases persistent shortcomings in the Indonesian justice system. The incident came to light through a video that went viral on social media platforms. Several public prosecutors are alleged to have received a payment of IDR 65 million (about € 4,000) from the family of a defendant involved in a sexual abuse case. The accused prosecutors and staff members have been suspended pending an internal investigation.

The family of the defendant claimed that they were approached by a prosecutor who proposed a settlement involving a payment of around IDR100 million (about € 6,250) to influence the case’s outcome. After negotiations, the family managed to provide IDR 65 million, with the expectation that the defendant’s sentence would be reduced to less than five years. The family transferred the money to a bank account owned by one of the prosecutors’ relatives.

In response, the Head of the Papua Barat High Prosecutor’s Office ensured to address the issue and conduct a thorough internal investigation against the suspects. He emphasized that the incident would be investigated comprehensively, considering both the alleged misconduct and the internal dynamics of the prosecutor’s office. He highlighted that disciplinary actions would be applied in accordance with the law.

The case could be the peak of an iceberg. The allegations raise concerns about the potential abuse of power and corruption within the justice system. The alleged extortion of money from the defendants or their relatives not only compromises the integrity of the legal process but also underscores the vulnerability of individuals seeking justice. The incident’s exposure through social media highlights the importance of transparency and accountability in legal proceedings.

Lawyers and human rights activists keep criticising the Indonesian police and prosecutors for their lack of transparency and adherence to legal provisions on criminal procedure. Such shortcomings have been identified in almost all stages of a law enforcement process, beginning with the arrest and the subsequent trial. The observation particularly applies to the prosecution of activists and defendants who have been arrested in the context of the armed conflict in West Papua.