Lawmakers Seen Laughing At Rape Joke Under Scrutiny
The House of Representatives’ Ethics Council is considering launching an internal investigation into lawmakers who reportedly laughed at a controversial joke made by a Supreme Court candidate.
Some members of House Commission III, which held a screening for six vacant posts at the Supreme Court, have come under fire after Muhammad Daming Sunusi aired his stance against applying the death penalty for sex offenders, saying that “both the perpetrator and the victim enjoy it.”
Several Commission III members were spotted laughing at his remark.
Although the deputy chairman of Commission III, Al Muzzammil Yusuf, said his colleagues’ chuckles were “cynical ones and not signs of approval,” Ethics Council member Alimin Abdullah still thinks an official inquiry should be launched.
“This is concerning the image of the parliament,” Alimin said. “[The candidates’ screening] isn’t some comedy show. People can judge it for themselves if an ethical violation seems to have occurred.
“In a [Honors Council] meeting [this week] we will propose that some Commission III members be summoned.”
Daming’s remarks prompted considerable criticism, particularly from the Indonesian Commission on Child Protection (KPAI) and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).
Many members of the public have also demanded that Daming be disqualified from the selection process and resign from his job as a judge.
Daming, who has been a judge for 24 years, was recently appointed as the chief of the Palembang High Court.
Supreme Court spokesman Ridwan Mansyur said Daming himself has reported the case to the Supreme Court, which considered his action an ethics violation.
The court, however, has refused to dismiss him from the judiciary, Ridwan said, arguing that “judges are only human [and] can make mistakes. And he already apologized to the public.”
Daming has also been questioned by the Judicial Commission in relation to the incident, Ridwan added, although it is not clear yet whether he will be sanctioned.
Abdul Haris Semendawai, chairman of the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK), said Daming’s remark reflected deeply held attitudes in the judiciary, highlighting the lenient sentences handed down to sex offenders.
“Judges have the wrong perception toward [rape] victims,” Abdul said. “If we see the verdicts handed out over the years, they average just two to three years in jail out of the maximum penalty of 12 years.”