An Indonesian woman sends an email to a friend complaining of poor medical treatment at a private hospital. After the email leaked, the 32-year-old mother of two is arrested and faces six years in an Indonesian jail for alleged defamation. Her case is sparking a national outcry over corruption and favoritism in judicial outcomes.
As Indonesia prepares for a presidential election on July 8th, the case has become a rally point for frustrations with a judicial system that critics say (including our Global Integrity Report: Indonesia) often favors the rich and connected over the rule of law.
Reuters reported yesterday on the case against Prita Mulyasari, an Indonesian mother who was hospitalized with mumps earlier this year. She was dissatisfied with the service she received at Omni International Hospital, a private institution, and complained in an email to one of her friends. The email leaked onto the internet and Ms. Mulyasari was fined $30,000 and charged with defamation.
She had been incarcerated while awaiting trial but has been released after journalists and and Indonesian citizens online took up her cause. At press time, a Facebook group in support of Prita had 94,116 members.
If convicted, she could receive as much as six years jail time.
Giving that the presidential election is less than a month away, all candidates have voiced their opinion on the matter. Current president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (seeking reelection), spoke out for the need of fairness and transparency in the application of all laws in a recent televised debate. The current Vice President, Jusuf Kalla (also up for election) spoke with the police chief, and finally, the opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri visited Ms. Mulyasari while she was still behind bars.
All of this shows that corruption, both in the judiciary system and out, will play a large role in the upcoming elections. This is all the more emphasized because of a scandal earlier this year, in which the president of Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) was arrested for allegedly murdering an executive.
A key element of this case is the practice of pre-trial detention, a flashpoint for corruption and inequitable treatment. Global Integrity will be looking closely at this issue worldwide later this year. Stay tuned.
— Jessica Mahoney