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Indonesia opens first prison for corruption crimes

[JURIST] Indonesia's justice minister announced Tuesday the opening of a prison wing intended to confine individuals convicted of corruption. The new wing, part of Cipinang Penitentiary in East Jakarta, is designed to hold up to 256 inmates, although only 10 people are currently incarcerated there. The country's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) [official website, in Bahasa] is responsible for sentencing inmates to prison terms in the new facility. The wing was added to alleviate overcrowding [JURIST news archive] in the Indonesian prison system and was also in response to criticism that wealthy prisoners are permitted to live in luxury. Anti-corruption reform has been one of the primary concerns of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono [NYT profile], and the opening of the prison wing highlights corruption concerns in the civilian and military branches of the government.

Last week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] wrote [letter text] to the Indonesian parliament urging the passage of a bill that would allow civilian officials to prosecute soldiers who commit crimes against civilians. Also last week, the independent, non-governmental organization International Crisis Group (ICG) [official website] released a report [text, PDF] stating that "corruption continues to be a major lubricant for terrorist activities in Indonesia." In February, the prosecution of Antasari Azhar [CNN report], former chief of the KPK, again raised corruption concerns in the country. In January, Indonesian protesters took to the streets [BBC report] in response to corruption scandals in Yudhoyono's administration. Last year, two senior law enforcement officials resigned [JURIST report] after being linked to an alleged plot to weaken the KPK.

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