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Jakarta Post

Constitutional Court justice race '€˜a test'€™ for House

  • Ina Parlina

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, February 24, 2014   /  10:00 am
Constitutional Court justice race '€˜a test'€™  for House

The selection process for two Constitutional Court justices will be a test for the House of Representatives '€” which has previously supported a call to bar politicians from becoming justices at the court '€” as some lawmakers have been touted to enter the race.

There will be two empty justice seats in the next few months. Yet, as of Saturday, only days before the registration will close on Monday, there are only eight candidates on the list, including Dimyati Natakusumah from the Islam-based United Development Party (PPP). Meanwhile, some lawmakers '€” including Benny K. Harman from the ruling Democratic Party and Ahmad Yani from PPP '€” have been touted as candidates.

Dimyati Natakusumah. JP

Benny K. Harman. JPBenny K. Harman. JP

Ahmad Yani. JPAhmad Yani. JP

'€œIf the House is consistent with its previous decision that endorsed the provision barring politicians from becoming justices, don'€™t let lawmakers pass the selection,'€ Erwin Natosmal of the Indonesian Legal Roundtable said on Saturday. '€œIt is a test for the lawmakers.'€

Erwin was also concerned that the race would '€œbe prone to politicking, given that it will occur ahead of the general election and [there are] no candidates that really stand out'€.

The addition of two justices with political backgrounds might pose a threat to the independence of the court, which is tasked with adjudicating election disputes. It also often hit with important rulings related to politics, with the latest one being January'€™s ruling that ordered Indonesia to hold simultaneous elections starting in 2019.

There are currently two justices with political backgrounds: Chief Justice Hamdan Zoelva, who is a former Crescent Star Party (PBB) politician and justice Patrialis Akbar, who is a former National Mandate Party (PAN) politician.

Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin, who is also a Democratic Party executive, called for lawmakers to prove their '€œconsistency'€ in selecting new justices.

'€œAlthough the law [regarding the regulation in lieu of law] has been annulled, don'€™t play around with its idea and goals [to reform the court],'€ Amir said recently.

Before the court controversially repealed a government regulation in lieu of law (Perppu), barring politicians from becoming justices at the court, the House endorsed the Perppu.

Yet, the House was divided during the deliberation of the Perppu in December last year, with 221 of 369 lawmakers at the session supporting the Perppu, which was proposed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Sarifuddin Sudding of the People'€™s Conscience (Hanura) Party dismissed all the concerns, urging the public to give the House a chance.

'€œWe have set a team of 12 experts to monitor and be involved in the selection process. It means that we [have opened the situation to] transparency,'€ he said, adding that lawmakers'€™ move to enroll in the selection was merely a consequence of the court'€™s ruling.

There are six other non-politician justice applicants, including the Law and Human Rights Ministry'€™s former director general for legislation, Wahiduddin Adams, who often represented the government in judicial review cases at the court; notary and legal practitioner Franz Astani; and Gunung Jati State Islamic University law lecturer Sugianto.

Also enrolled in the selection are University of Padjadjaran law lecturer Atip Latipulhayat, who is also a human rights activist in West Java; Hasanuddin University law faculty dean Aswanto, who was also a member of the selection panel for the court'€™s ethics body; and Indonesia Islamic University law lecturer Ni'€™matul Huda.