National

House dragging its heels
to weaken KPK: ICW

Antigraft activists have lambasted the House of Representatives its alleged attempts to weaken the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) through bills on the revision to the Criminal Code (KUHP) and on Criminal Code procedures (KUHAP).

Emerson Yuntho of the Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) said on Tuesday that the House’s Commission III overseeing law and human rights was silently trying to restrict the KPK’s power through the bills. “The deliberation process of these two bills appeared to have been carried out silently to avoid criticism and public attention,” he said in a press statement.

Emerson also said that sources had revealed that the House had aimed to finish the deliberation of the two bills by Oct. 2013, adding fuel to allegations that the House was planning to sabotage the country’s fight against graft.

According to Emerson, the KUHAP bill appears to distance the KPK and the Corruption Court from the efforts. “It can be seen by the absence of institutions other than the Attorney General’s Office [AGO], the police and the court [state, high and supreme],” Emerson said. “If [the bill] is passed, then the regulation could create polemic or multiple interpretations in the future.”

The bill also bestowed great authority on a new institution it created called Commissioner Judge, which, according to him, had the duty to determine whether a law enforcement institution could proceed with an investigation, arrest, detain, search for evidence, confiscate evidence or wiretap phone conversations based on its own evaluation.

Besides that, Emerson also cited some articles included in the KUHAP bill that had the potential to undermine the KPK, such as Article 240, which stipulated that an exoneration could not be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Then Article 250 stated that a Supreme Court prison term verdict could not be heavier than the High Court’s verdict, he added.

The bill also failed to regulate corporations implicated in graft practice, according to Emerson. “There are nine articles on the KUHAP bill that have the potential to amputate the KPK and its efforts to eradicate corruption,” he said.

Punishment for graft convicts stipulated in the KUHP bill, meanwhile, are much more lenient than those stipulated in Law No. 31/1999 and Law No. 20/2001, both on corruption, Emerson said.

According to him, the House is attempting to castrate the KPK because the antigraft body had arrested corrupt politicians and as a result was processing at least 65 of them. “Besides that, the KPK’s investigation [into the House] is deemed to be disrupting sources of funding for the 2014 election,” said Emerson.

The ICW, therefore, called on the House to stop discussing the bills and returned them to the government to be reassessed. It also urged the government to scrap the problematic articles.

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggles (PDI-P) lawmaker Eva Kusuma Sundari, meanwhile, said that the allegations were not based on fact.

“We have not even started [to deliberate the bills],” she told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. “I don’t know where [the ICW] got the idea [of the accusations] from.”

Eva, who is a member of the Commission’s working committee on the bills, said that the deliberation process was postponed because there were more pressing matters at hand, such as the supreme judge selection. “The committee probably will start [working] this October,” she said.

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