Law Enforcement and Human Rights Challenges for the New Attorney General
It has been more than two weeks since the inauguration of Joko Widodo-Jusuf Kalla’s working cabinet. Even so, the appointment of an Attorney General seems to still be a long way away. According to the Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law, and Security, Tedjo Edhi Purdijatno, several names have already been submitted to the Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi / KPK) and the Indonesian Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (Pusat Pelaporan dan Analisis Transaksi Keuangan / PPATK) so that their track record and integrity can be traced. Meanwhile, the helm at the Attorney General office at the moment is being held by the Deputy Attorney General as the acting district attorney. In accordance with Article 18 paragraph (3) of Law No. 16 Year 2004 on the Judiciary, the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General both are an integral element of leadership.
There is no harm done if President Joko Widodo is emphasizing precautions in this appointment. Moreover, the public has high hopes that the upcoming attorney general figure will be a person of integrity. On the other hand, not having chosen an attorney general yet quite slows down the performance of the Judiciary. As the acting attorney general, the Deputy Attorney General is not in the capacity to make strategic decisions.
In addition to consider integrity and independence, the President must also base his decision on the actual condition and the challenges in law enforcement and human rights. In an internal scope, the Attorney General bears the task in completing the bureaucratic reform and attorney disciplinary agenda. Also, the Attorney General is challenged to restore the public trust in corruption cases, especially at the regional levels. The Attorney General also has quite a load of homework of human rights abuse that have been pending all this time. Several severe cases of human rights abuse which have not been resolved yet are the Trisakti Case, the Semanggi 1 and 2 Case, enforced disappearances cases, the cases of mysterious shootings, the post-G30S massacre case, the May 1998 riot case, and the Talangsari case. For cases in abuse towards human rights, besides the Attorney General, this is a challenge for Joko Widodo as president to keep the promise that he made during his previous presidential campaign. (MSG)
Blank Religion Column for Devotees is Permissible by Law
Last week, Minister of Home Affairs Tjahjo Kumolo stated that Indonesian citizens are allowed to not state their religion in the electronic resident identity card (e-KTP). According to Article 64 paragraph (5) of Law No. 24 Year 2013 on Population Administration, leaving the religion column blank is permissible for all citizens who have a religion or belief outside the six recognized religions. As stated in the elucidation of Law No. 1 Year 1965 on the Prevention of Blasphemy, Indonesia recognizes only six religions; Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.
Although in line with the law, the Minister’s statement is attracting many criticisms, mainly from opposition groups. The House of Representatives Vice-Speaker, Fadli Zon, from the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Partai Gerindra), questioned the urgency of allowing a blank religion column on the identity card. Fadli argued that the policy could increase adherents of atheism or other beliefs that are not in line with Pancasila (Indonesia’s state fundamental principle). In line with Fadli, Abubakar Alhabsyi, politician of the Prosperous Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera) worries that the blank religion column may cause legal uncertainty, hence causing the public to become pessimistic towards campaign promises of President Joko Widodo. Moreover, some comments in the media misleadingly reported that the government intends to remove the religion column from the resident identity card.
In Indonesia, stating religion on the identity card has become a sensitive issue since the Suharto (Indonesia’s second president) era. Under the Suharto administration, each citizen is obliged to fill the religion column in the ID card with one of the recognized religions. In fact, Confucians—whose belief has been recognized as an official religion since the Sukarno (Indonesia’s first president) era, were not allowed to write Confucianism on their IDs. Suharto issued the instruction in 1967, which prohibited all kinds of Chinese traditions, including Confucianism, to be conducted openly.
Being allowed to leave the religion column blank on the ID card was first regulated in Law No. 23 Year 2006 on Population Administration, which was amended by Law No. 24 Year 2013. The assertion of the government regarding this provision should be supported as a form of refusing religion-based discrimination against citizens. The adherents of belief that are not recognized by the state are now allowed to leave the religion column blank. This progress should be appreciated and the government should be encouraged to make other improvements, so that in the future, there will no administrative obstacles faced by non-recognized religion adherents when they want to register marriages or register the birth of their children. As a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation, Indonesia has dozens of native beliefs that have existed before the six recognized religions, such as Sunda Wiwitan in West Java, Kejawen in Central and East Java, and Watu Telu in West Nusa Tenggara who have a small population of believers. Nevertheless, the government has categorized the adherents of these faiths as ‘devotees of beliefs’ or ‘penghayat kepercayaan’. (RA)
House of Representatives
The House and the 244 Local Elections Agenda
Towards the end of their tenure, the President and the 2009-2014 period of House of Representatives have ratified Law No. 22 Year 2014 on the Elections of Governors, Regents, and Mayors. The Law contains a provision that local election implementations are done by the Regional House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rayat Daerah / DPRD), no longer by the public. The people feel like their rights have been revoked and are expressing their disappointment by holding demonstrations and conducting several movements in order to reject the Law. The then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) issued Government Regulation in Lieu of Law No. 1 Year 2014 on Governor Elections, which he admits is a correction towards the step he took in regulating that the local elections should have to go through the DPRD, regents, and mayors. According to him, Government Regulation in Lieu of Law gives back to the public their right to directly choose their regional heads.
If one refers to the 1945 Constitution, the mere existence of the Government Regulation in Lieu of Law does not solve the problem. According to Article 22 paragraph (2) and (3), a Government Regulation in Lieu of Law must receive approval from the upcoming tenure of House of Representatives. If not, then it must be revoked. However, up until now, there has been no agenda set to discuss the issue. Actually, the certainty of this election mechanism can also be obtained if the Constitutional Court decides to test the case of the Government Regulation in Lieu of Law. However, at this very moment, the trial has just entered the preliminary examination stage. Even so, the certainty of the election mechanisms lay in the hands of the House. If in the near future the House possesses the political will to start the discussions stages, the uncertainty will come to an end.
On the other hand, it seems like the House does not aware that delaying discussions of the Government Regulation in Lieu of Law will have grave implications towards the local elections of 244 regions/cities, which should be done in 2015. Preparations for these elections cannot be done in only one or two months; there are several components that must be prepared such as scheduling, budgeting, preparation of legal regulations and technical guidance, plus logistic preparations. According to the General Elections Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum /KPU) Regulation No. 9 Year 2010 on Drafting Guidelines, Programs, and Schedules of Local Elections, stages of the election should at least start to take place 210 days of 7 months before the day of voting. If there is still no certainty, then the schedule of replacing the local government will be disrupted and the development agenda will be put on hold. (MS)
A Collaboration of Arts and Regulations at RRREC Fest 2014
ruangrupa, an artist’s initiative established in 2000 based in Tebet, Jakarta, held their annual arts festival named RRREC Fest (ruangrupa Record Festival) on 31 October 2014—2 November 2014. Usually held in Jakarta, this year’s location was quite different; the festival was held at Tanakita Camping Ground, Sukabumi, West Java. Participants had the opportunity to experience musical performances, outdoor cinema screenings, multimedia performances, workshops, talk shows, exhibitions, and bazaars while camping in tents, overlooking a valley. Indonesian Centre for Law and Policies Studies (Pusat Studi Hukum dan Kebijakan Indonesia / PSHK), The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Komisi untuk Orang Hilang dan Korban Tindak Kekerasan / KontraS), Rakata Adventure Team, and the Indonesian Art Coalition (Koalisi Seni Indonesia / KSI) all take part on the festival.
More than just an arts festival, RRREC Fest in the Valley 2014 held talkshows in order to facilitate the flow and exchange of knowledge amongst fellow campers. PSHK held a discussion named “Peraturan Gak Penting” (“Unimportant Regulations”), while KSI and KontraS also held their own talkshows that revolved around freedom of expression and also on the relevance of arts and culture on youth. Miko Susanto Ginting, a researcher from PSHK, opened up the discussion on the many activities surrounding youths that needn’t be regulated. One of the main factors that encouraged this topic was the many issues surrounding youth and social media. The case of Flo, whose sentenced to imprisonment due to acts of defamation, when in fact, there is no such term as defamation in the Indonesian legal system; there is humiliation instead. Even so, an act of humiliation has several aspects that need to be fulfilled in order for an act to be named as humiliating.
In order to play the defamation card, one must be able to prove that a subject indeed has a good name to defame in the first place. Humiliation is regulated in Article 27 paragraph 3 of Law No. 11 Year 2008 on Electronic Information and Transactions, which states that perpetrators face punishment of up to six years, when in fact Articles 310 and 311 of the Criminal Code itself only regulates punishment of up to nine months. Of course, without regulations, vigilantism would prosper in society. In order for that situation not to happen, Miko suggested that the Indonesian legal system apply alternative methods of punishment rather than just prison sentencing. Another message from Miko was “Do not let the fear of these regulations affect creativity and freedom of expression; there are always ways around them.” PSHK alongside ruangrupa also collaborated in two other projects at RRREC Fest. First, a “confessions tent” where people would come and confess their legal wrongdoings and get free consultations and input from PSHK researchers. Second, a large mural painted by ruangrupa artists, in honor of the partnership between PSHK and ruangrupa. (AW)
Congratulatory Remark for the Professorship Inauguration of Prof. Topo Santoso of the University of Indonesia Law Faculty
Prof. Topo Santoso, S.H., M.H., Ph.D., who has held the position of Dean of the Law Faculty of University of Indonesia (Universitas Indonesia / UI) since 20 December 2013 has earned his Professorship in July 2014. On Wednesday, 5 November 2014, the Senate of Professors of UI gave Prof. Topo Santoso, S.H., M.H., Ph.D the title of Professor of Legal Studies of the Faculty of Law of UI.
During the inauguration ceremony, which was led by acting Rector, Prof. Dr Bambang Wibawarta, Prof. Topo Santoso explained gave a Professorship Speech titled “The Role of Criminal Law in the Indonesian Democratic Process”. In essence, Prof. Topo’s inaugural speech reviewed implementation aspects of criminal law in the Indonesian General Elections, along with all its existing issues and solutions that may overcome them.
Indonesian Centre for Law and Policies Studies (Pusat Studi Hukum dan Kebijakan Indonesia / PSHK) as an institution that thrives in the field of research and law reform has taken great concern related to the education and developmental thinking in the legal world. The increasing number of Professors in the legal field is a beacon of hope that law reform will develop even more through the academic realm. Therefore, PSHK would like to congratulate Prof. Topo Santoso for achieving the title of Professor of Legal Studies of the Faculty of Law of Universitas Indonesia. (PB)