New law shields House members from corruption investigations
Margareth S. Aritonang
The Jakarta Post
The controversial endorsement of the Legislative Institution Law, also known as the MD3 Law, has drawn criticism, with many slamming the new regulation as an attempt by lawmakers to obtain legal impunity.
Following the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle's (PDI-P) move to challenge the law, which sought to annul a manipulative voting mechanism for speaker of the House of Representatives, a coalition of civil society organizations has now sough to challenge Article 245.
The article stipulates that law enforcement agencies needed to get the go-ahead from the House Honor Tribunal before they could summon lawmakers for alleged criminal activities.
According to the article, any requests for summons would be considered invalid if the Honor Tribunal, which would comprise 17 lawmakers from each political faction in the House, does not give its approval.
'This will allow lawmakers implicated in criminal cases to buy time [and perhaps] avoid the legal process,' activist Abdullah Dahlan from Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) said during a press briefing in South Jakarta on Sunday.
Besides Article 245, the new law, an amendment to the 2009 law, further details lawmakers' rights to impunity in Article 224.
The article stipulates that House members cannot be questioned for their conduct within and outside the House compound.
The new law, which the House hastily deliberated in the run up to the presidential election on July 9, will not only give lawmakers legal impunity, but will also shut off public monitoring of its performance.
Article 229 of the law, for instance, will allow lawmakers to have a closed-door meetings without any disclosure to the public.
Such a stipulation would further enable the House to ignore input from the public in the deliberation of contentious regulations.
'The new law reflects lawmakers' poor commitment to accountability and transparency,' said Hendrik Rosdinar from Civil Society Alliance for Democracy (Yappika), an Indonesian civil society alliance for democracy.
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Abraham Samad said that the KPK would continue prosecuting lawmakers in the future in spite of the new regulation.
He said that the KPK had its own laws to deal with corrupt state officials.
Abraham said the KPK would still be free to summon any lawmakers in its investigation into a graft case without having to ask permission from the Honor Tribunal.
'We don't have to abide by the MD3 Law. Even if the law is implemented, the KPK only follows the Corruption Law and the KPK Law. So, we don't have to worry about the implementation of the MD3 because corruption eradication efforts will not be affected by it,' Abraham said over the weekend.
However, Abraham warned that other law enforcement institutions, such as the National Police and the Attorney General's Office, could be affected by the new law as they did not have a special law on
Separately, KPK deputy chairman Busyro Muqoddas lambasted the House for amending the MD3, saying that a number of articles in it violated equality before the law principle.
'The position of lawmakers is equal to other state officials. The House has tried to violate the principle of equality before the law by protecting its lawmakers' law enforcement institutions,' Busyro said.
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