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Jakarta Post

Ex-graft convicts can run in regional races but only five years after release: Court

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, December 11, 2019   /   07:23 pm
Ex-graft convicts can run in regional races but only five years after release: Court The nine justices of the Constitutional Court preside over a hearing. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

Former corruption convicts are allowed to run in regional elections five years after their release from prison, the Constitutional Court has ruled.

The nine-justice bench handed down the decision on a judicial review petition challenging the 2016 Regional Election Law on Wednesday.

Election watchdog the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) and Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) – the plaintiffs in the case – had asked the court to create a 10-year waiting period before former convicts, especially graft convicts, could run for regional leadership positions.

The court did not grant the proposed 10-year gap period but instead decided to change the challenged provision on Article 7 point 2 of the 2016 law, which had not stipulated such a limitation.

“Former convicts should pass a five-year gap period after serving their prison sentence […], should honestly or openly announce their background as former convicts and should not be a recidivists [to be eligible to run for regional office],” chief justice Anwar Usman said in the ruling on Wednesday.

Fadli Ramadhanil of Perludem said the plaintiffs welcomed the court's ruling, even though it did not accommodate all of their demands.

“In the future, we hope that we will have accountable regional candidates in the 2020 election in all 270 regions so that they can focus on working for the public,” he said.

The association called for the General Elections Commission (KPU) to immediately adjust its regulations for the upcoming regional elections and announce them to the public so that voters could get the most information possible about the candidates’ records.

“The KPU should have a regulation that requires former convicts to report how long they served in prison and when they were released.”

The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) deputy secretary-general Arif Wibowo said the ruling was reasonably fair.

"A five-year gap and the condition that they should not repeat the mistakes are correct [...] These conditions mean the court considers the rights [of all citizens] to participate in politics," he said.

Although political parties are allowed to nominate ex-corruption convicts, Arif said that the PDI-P would not.

The next simultaneous regional elections are scheduled for Sept. 29, 2020. The heads of 270 regions will be elected: nine governors, 224 regents and 37 mayors.