By Nick Baker, Communication and Knowledge Management Officer
|Akmal is in school instead of a Makassar prison cell (pictured). |
©UNICEF Indonesia/2015/Nick Baker
Fourteen-year-old Akmal* sits in the corridor of a large government office in Makassar. He seems nervous – playing with the zipper on his backpack, constantly adjusting his school uniform. It’s understandable given the imposing surroundings. “I’m OK,” he says softly. “This is better than a prison.”
A few months ago, Akmal was walking the Makassar streets with a friend. The friend decided to prove his bravado by stealing a gas canister from a nearby shop. Things didn’t go as planned and both boys were apprehended by police.
A prison sentence for petty crime is common in Indonesia. Although Akmal was not directly involved in the gas canister theft, a lengthy stint in prison was the expected outcome. But, thanks to the new Juvenile Criminal System Law that came into force in August 2014, Akmal’s story turned out very differently.