Fri, 25 Feb 2000

Bill sets penalties for crimes against children

JAKARTA (JP): A government sanctioned team has finished drafting the child protection bill that will allow the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA) to take custody of children from parents for alleged negligence or abuse.

The bill, consisting of 57 articles, threatens those committing crimes against children, such as physical abuse, rape and trafficking, with minimum penalties of nine years imprisonment and Rp 200 million fine.

The commission's executive director, Arist Merdeka Sirait, said on Thursday the new bill would also allow doctors, teachers and neighbors to report any child abuse cases to the police or to the commission.

"Victims of abuse will be admitted to the commission's shelter and will stay there until their parents can prove they will never repeat the misconduct," Arist told reporters.

The proposed bill also deals with child labor, prostitution and exploitation.

"It allows us to remove neglected children from their parents," Arist said.

There are around 1.7 million children nationwide working in hazardous places such as mines, offshore fisheries and factories. There are also some 70,000 underaged female sex workers, not to mention rampant child abuse.

Indonesia enacted in 1979 the law on children's welfare, which allows the government to revoke parents' rights to raise their children.

Another commission member Irwanto said many child abuse cases were left unsettled, because of cultural norms that considered abuse a domestic affair.

The government team was formed two years ago. It comprises officials from the former ministry of social affairs, ministry of law and legislation, child abuse experts, non-governmental organizations, Komnas PA and legal aid institutions. (dja)