Sunday, June 24, 2007

Anti-graft court bill vital: Experts

Thursday, June 21, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Experts demanded Wednesday the immediate enactment of the anti-corruption court bill to empower the court to achieve more accountable verdicts and encourage public participation in the process.

"The enactment of the bill is very urgent for the war against corruption and cannot be delayed as the techniques of corruption are getting more sophisticated over time," Romli Atmasasmita, a law lecturer at Padjadjaran University, told reporters on the sidelines of a discussion on corruption.

The Anti-Corruption Court was established in 2005, as mandated by Article 53 of the Law on the Commission for Corruption Eradication. In the same year, the Constitutional Court ruled that the inception of the court created dualism in the judicial system, and recommended that by 2009 the government and the House of Representatives should have formulated a particular law for the Anti-Corruption Court.

Romli said the public should effectively use the time allocated for the formulation of the law, or risk losing the chance to convert the bill into law as political parties begin to busy themselves for the 2009 general election.

Bambang Widjajanto from the Consortium for National Law Reform said there had been a misunderstanding of the Constitutional Court's decision on the Anti-Corruption Court.

"The Constitutional Court did not delegitimize the Anti-Corruption Court, but rather allowed lawmakers to prepare a legal basis for it as stipulated in Article 15 of the Law on Judicial Bodies that states that a court should be established by a law," he said.

Citing the UN Convention Against Corruption, Bambang said corruption not only posed problems and threats to the state in the form of financial losses, but also jeopardizes the stability and security of societies, undermines the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and damages sustainable development and the rule of law.

"Corruption is an extraordinary crime and it should be handled by a special court. The practice of corruption is complicated, but we have to create a simple legal system so the public can easily have access to it," Bambang said.

The bill stipulates that the anti-corruption court is a part of the general court system and will be the only court to try corruption cases.

Under a law for the court, the recruitment of judges would be more transparent as it would incorporate members of the public, academicians and legal practitioners in the selection team, Bambang said.

The panel of judges would be comprised of between three and five members and would depend on the complexity of the case, with the provision that ad hoc judges should outnumber career judges on any panel.

The court would also be obliged to regularly report its progress in the handling of cases, as well as its financial management, to the public.

The bill also stipulates that the Judicial Commission is responsible for overseeing the judges' behavior, while the Supreme Court is responsible for supervising the judicial process. (02)

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