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The Bipolar Law: Protecting or Incarcerating?

Problems of health do not only concern issues that are physical, but also psychological. In 2013, a research on basic health estimated that about 1.7 per mille of Indonesian households have a family member with severe mental disorder. Without early and effective treatment the disorder is potentially harmful for an individual’s quality of life and his/her social relationship.  Such treatment constitutes not only providing quality health service, but also legal protection.

Individuals with mental disorder are often unable to access public health services due to the stigma and discrimination against them. People tend to think of them as dangerous, irrational, irresponsible for domestic issues, and unable to work. As a result, they tend to consider the presence of persons with mental disorder as a disturbance, and that they should be put in detention institutions, such as rehabilitation centers, mental hospitals (RSJ), and prisons.

LBH Masyarakat pays special attention to persons with mental disorder (ODGJ) who are dealing with the law, especially those who are alleged to have committed a criminal offense. Our attention is based on the tender age of the legal instrument that governs issues of ODGJ in the criminal justice system. With no legal protection provided during the stage of the arrest there is a huge possibility for ODGJ to get punishment that will only worsen their disorder.

The criminal justice system is not the only cause of the estrangement of ODGJ since in reality ODGJ gets estranged through practices that are common in the society. Confining ODGJ in stocks, for instance, is one of the forms of violence commonly committed by families and communities in Indonesia. In addition to the experience of being confined in stocks, ODGJ are also vulnerable of experiencing other forms of violence.

Based on such consideration, we decided to document cases that are allegedly committed by ODGJ, and practices of violence against ODGJ throughout 2016. One of the reasons for the documentation attempt is a previous experience of loss of a friend and client. In 2015, LBH Masyarakat had a client who was also a friend: Rodrigo Gularte, a Brazilian national who was diagnosed with serious mental and psychological disorders. He was later killed in the name of law through the execution of a death sentence. We were witnesses of how a man who had never been provided with either decent health services or access to fair legal services since the beginning of the judicial process until the bullets went through his body. Therefore, although the name Rodrigo Gularte had disappeared from the news in 2016, this report is dedicated to him and to the other ODGJ who are still kept behind bars, both in official correctional facilities and confined in stocks behind homes.

Click this link to download the report.

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