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Soft sentence for Indonesian trafficker draws fire

Crusading priest cries foul after prosecutors ask for only 18 months against woman who exploited 16-year-old girl

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Soft sentence for Indonesian trafficker draws fire

Alleged human trafficker Rusna during her trial in Batam District Court last week. (Photo supplied)


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An activist Catholic priest in Indonesia’s Riau Islands province has attacked a decision by prosecutors to only demand an 18-month jail term for an alleged human trafficker charged with exploiting a 16-year-old girl.

According to Father Chrisanctus Saturnus, head of Pangkalpinang Diocese’s Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, prosecutors have “completely ignored” the law which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment

He raised his objections in a Jan. 31 letter to the Attorney-General’s Office.

The sentence demanded during the trial late last week in the Batam District Court was too lenient, he said.

Rusna, director of a domestic help agency, is accused of exploiting a 16-year-old girl from East Nusa Tenggara province by sending her to work for an employer and pocketing the girl’s monthly salary over a two year period starting in 2016.

“I really don’t understand, how prosecutors can demand only 18 months in prison for the main perpetrator in a human trafficking case,” Father Saturnus said in the letter, accusing Rusna of promoting slavery.

“This is totally unfair on the victim and damages efforts to win justice by those seeking to eradicate human trafficking in Batam,” the priest said.

He said the proposed sentence for Rusna was disproportionate to the one meted out to the girl’s uncle, who was jailed for 4 years in December 2018 for taking her to the Riau Islands and placing here in the hands of Rusna. 

“The main perpetrator seems to be getting off lightly, which is very odd and confusing,” Father Saturnus, suggesting some sort of collusion was taking place.

Martinus Gabriel Goa Sola, director of the church-linked Advocacy Service for Justice and Peace in Indonesia, also questioned the proposed sentence and called for a probe and strict action if it is found any underhand deals had taken place.

Prosecutors refused to comment when approached.

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