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Indonesian activists claim new law will hamper graft probes

Groups call for judicial review of amendment that 'protects lawmakers'

  • Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • July 15, 2014
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Activists are calling for a judicial review into a legal amendment passed last week that they say will protect lawmakers from corruption investigations.

The amendment to the 2009 Legislative Institutions Law, known as MD3, was passed almost unnoticed on July 8 while attention was focused on the presidential election that took place a day later.

Under Article 245 of the amendment the country’s law enforcement bodies must now seek permission from the president or the House of Representatives Honorary Council to question lawmakers suspected of graft. Written approval must be granted within 30 days.

This would not apply, however, to lawmakers caught red-handed. In the past, law enforcement agencies could directly summon lawmakers in such cases.

Abdullah Dahlan from Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) said the new law could make it much more difficult for law enforcement officials, including those from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), to investigate corrupt legislators.

“The requirement of obtaining written approval from the Honorary Council should not be necessary. We are concerned that the 30-day period will allow a suspect to destroy all evidence,” he told ucanews.com on Monday.

“[During that time], a suspect may also escape. This makes the ongoing legal process difficult,” he said. “It’s a backward step … when we’re making efforts to eradicate corruption.”

The ICW along with other groups will soon file for a judicial review of the amendment, he added.

KPK chairman Abraham Samad tried to downplay concerns over the commission’s future role, saying it would still go after corrupt lawmakers.

However, he admitted that other law enforcement agencies such as National Police and the Attorney General’s Office could find the new regulations frustrating.

“We don’t have to abide by MD3. Even if it is implemented, the KPK only follows anti-corruption laws and KPK regulations. Corruption eradication efforts [by the KPK] won’t be affected,” he told the Jakarta Post.

Meanwhile, House of Representatives (DPR) speaker Marzuki Alie denied the activists’ claims, saying the amendment won’t protect any corrupt legislators.

“Written approval from the Honorary Council is needed so that law enforcement officers … can’t conduct an investigation just when they feel like it against members of the DPR,” he told ucanews.com.

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