A man with face mask walks on a pedestrian bridge amid coronavirus outbreak, in Jakarta, Indonesia. Reuters
Indonesia is set to release about 30,000 prisoners early as the Southeast Asian nation seeks to avoid a possible surge in coronavirus infections in its overcrowded prisons.
A document issued by the law and human rights ministry reviewed by Reuters stipulated that adult prisoners would be eligible for parole if they had served two-thirds of their sentences, while children would be eligible if they served half of their jail term.
Ministry spokesman Bambang Wiyono said on Tuesday the parole would encompass around 30,000 prisoners.
Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous nation and President Joko Widodo on Tuesday declared a national public health emergency in a bid to contain the coronavirus outbreak. So far, the government has reported 1,414 infections and 122 deaths from the virus, but some officials and experts believe a lack of testing has masked the scale of the outbreak.
Official data shows there are 270,386 prisoners across Indonesia, more than twice the official capacity of its jails, as a war on drugs has led to a surge in the number of people locked up. Many centres also lack proper sanitation, which makes inmates particularly vulnerable to the spread of diseases.
Erasmus Napitupulu, executive director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR), welcomed the parole, but urged the government to widen it to include more prisoners.
Other countries including Iran and the United States have also released prisoners early in a bid to stem the accelerating spread of coronavirus in jails.
Widodo has said he would impose stricter rules on mobility and social distancing as a study presented to the government warned that more than 140,000 people could die from the coronavirus by May unless it takes tougher action.
The sum was initially earmarked for non-priority spending, such as overseas business trips, and projects that have now been delayed, Sri Mulyani Indrawati told an online news conference.
A zoo in Indonesia may slaughter some of its animals to feed others, such as a Sumatran tiger and a Javan leopard, if it runs out of food in coming months after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to shut it doors.
Yurianto confirmed 282 new coronavirus infections, taking the total in the Southeast Asian country to 4,839. A total of 426 people have recovered, he said.
More than 33,600 tests have been performed, Yurianto added.
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