27 July 2009
Underage Gambling in Indonesia -- Big Time Crime?
Gambling is illegal in Indonesia. This does not mean it does not happen. There is probably a case to made for instances of gambling and then gambling. The point here is that organized gambling is clearly against the law and any attempt to regulate it into existence has met with fierce opposition. Then there is gambling that kids partake in like having a flutter on the outcome of a coin toss. The first one sees hundreds of millions of Rupiah change hands and the other is lucky if it sees tens of Rupiah change hands.
A recent case that was heard in Tangerang District court has ended with ten children being convicted of gambling. Their punishment to date is that they have been sent home with their parents. The result is clearly not the right one. The case should never have even seen the light of day. But, it did and it highlights the lunacy of the law enforcement system in Indonesia. Anyone who argues that reform is taking hold is kidding themselves.
The lawyer of the children intends to appeal the decision. If I can help out from afar, then I would be more than willing to do so. The idea that these children were ever in detention was outrageous. The fact that they have been convicted is just as outrageous. The Attorney General should have instructed prosecutors to drop the case. The fact that he did not indicates where the priorities lay. I would also suggest that the masks provided hardly are sufficient to conceal the identities of these children, so the Tangerang prosecutors have failed in this regard as well.
There must be something in the water out Tangerang way. These are the prosecutors from the same Tangerang office that placed a young mother of two, Prita Mulyasari, in jail for writing a letter complaining about the service she received from the Omni International Hospital. There must be absolutely no serious crime in Tangerang that these prosecutors have nothing better to spend their time on than jailing young children and mothers.
This is a case that must capture more people's imagination and not just in Indonesia but further afield. An excellent piece, some might call it an enlightened and educated rage against the machine was written by a resident expat in Indonesia, Patrick Guntensperger, and can be found here.
The stupidity of the whole affair is that there are hardened criminals and organized criminal activities continuing to go about their ways without any concern at all about being arrested or brought to justice. Now, whether this is because they have connections to the right people or pay the necessary "fees" to avoid trouble, I will leave to you and your imaginations. However, the lawyer for the ten children, Kristin Tambunan, has a point when she asks, "since when is playing a crime?" This becomes even more absurd when one considers that these children are currently convicted criminals because they were tossing coins to fill in time between shoe shining gigs.
The conviction of these children is, plain and simple, wrong. The appeal must be accepted on the grounds that the judges erred in allowing the case to proceed, as the prevailing laws and regulations clearly state that the prosecution of children is a last resort. The verdict must be vacated and these children need to be allowed to get on with their lives without the noose of convicted felon hanging around their neck.
What is the Office of the Public Prosecutor thinking?