Covid-19: release of prisoners must cover prisoners and those in custody in Papua treason cases.

2 Apr 2020

We appreciate steps taken by the Government to free prisoners, particularly child prisoners, through the assimilation system, conditional release, conditional holiday and holiday for those approaching their release date. However, we also urge the Government to apply this decision in a fair and non-discriminatory manner.

Prisoners who have been imprisoned or held in custody on treason charges and for acts of expressing opinion peacefully must be released without condition. Such prisoners have been criminalised which is itself a form of punishment. They have a right to health treatment. Hence for the purpose of protecting their health and in consideration of justice, they must all be released unconditionally.

Furthermore, the potential for prisoners to contract Covid-19 in prison is extremely high, brought in by prison guards who interact with prisoners. There is no guarantee yet that prisoners still imprisoned will have access to clean water, soap, hand sanitizer, masks and other necessities that are needed to prevent transmission of the virus.

With their release, prisoners will at least be able to practice social distancing and mitigate Covid-19’seffects, because almost all prisons are overcrowded.

While the position of those who have been released will improve, those still in prison and detention facilities must have access to health treatment, including access to testing and adequate prevention measures. Most importantly, all strategies to deal with the spread of Covid-19 must comply with international human rights standards.


At the beginning of this week, the Government of Indonesia, through the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, decided to free 30,000 adult and child prisoners to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The release was done through a process of reintegrating prisoners into society, parental leave, and parole, especially for prisoners who had served two-thirds of their sentences in the period from 1st April 2020 to 31st December 2020.

The Government has given consideration to the high levels of prison occupancy, conditions in special development institutions for children, and in custody, in making its decision, and the high susceptibility of prisoners to contracting the coronavirus.

The right to health is guaranteed in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) that states that the “prevention, treatment and control of epidemics, endemics, occupational diseases and other diseases”  constitutes a part of the right to health.

In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the obligation of the state includes making sure that preventative acts, treatment, services and available information can be accessed by all citizens. The right of health also involves: the provision of health equipment and facilities in sufficient quantities; that access is provided to all people without discrimination; respect for medical ethics; and are scientifically and medically appropriate and of good quality. Equipment and health services must be accessed by all citizens, above all by groups that are most susceptible or are marginalised in society; with safe physical access by all citizens without exception, and affordable for all based on special needs, specifically those related to gender, age and disability. The right also includes accessibility of information related to health.

Jakarta, 2 April 2020

Amnesty International Indonesia

Komisi untuk Orang Hilang dan Korban Tindak Kekerasan (KontraS)

Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)

Yayasan Satu Keadilan

Ikatan Keluarga Korban untuk Orang Hilang (IKOHI)

Yayasan Perlindungan Insani Indonesia

Greenpeace Indonesia

Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat

Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Papua (LBH Papua)

Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia (YLBHI)

Lembaga Penelitian, Pengkajian dan Pengembangan Bantuan Hukum (LP3BH)

Perkumpulan Advokat Hak Asasi Manusia Papua

Elsham Papua


LBH Cenderawasih

SKPKC Fransiskan Papua

Kontras Papua

LBH Papua Barat

Perkumpulan Belantara papua



LBH Jakarta

LBH Pers

Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet)


Federasi KontraS


Gereja komunitas Anugerah Reformed Baptist Salemba

SKP Keuskupan Agung Merauke


Contact person:

1. Usman Hamid, Amnesty Internasional, +62 811-812-149;

2. Tigor Hutapea, Tim Advokat Tapol Papua, +62 812-8729-6684

3. Damairia Pakpahan, Perlindungan Insani, +62 812-2699-822.