KUHP revision: Is KPK being redesigned to become ‘Corruption Prevention Commission’?

When it comes to the fight against corruption, a draft amendment in the Criminal Code (KUHP) that the House of Representatives will immediately deliberate on is but the latest proof that political support for the effort to end graft in this country is next to nothing.

The priority bill is rattling some nerves because it defines corruption and money laundering as “ordinary”, or “general”, crimes, and names the police as the sole authority investigating corruption cases, a provision that could swing the present system upside down.

As the organization that proposed the bill, the Law and Human Rights Ministry has assured those concerned that the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) would be maintained as a special institution.

But nobody yearning for a corruption-free Indonesia should be so easily placated because if the bill is passed unaltered, prosecutors and the KPK will lose their basic authority to investigate corruption cases and will only play second fiddle to the police.

“Once corruption is codified as a general crime, or an ordinary crime, then we prosecutors will no longer have the authority to probe,” Attorney General M. Prasetyo said during last week’s hearing with lawmakers.

The KPK has also vowed to do anything it can to drop the draft amendment and make sure that corruption retains its “extraordinary” crime status. “The provision would de-legitimize the KPK,” says KPK acting deputy chief Indriyanto Seno Adji.

Some of the immense ramifications would include the delegitimization of the KPK, the Corruption Court and the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) as well as the laws that have become the legal basis for the institutions. Prosecutors would also lose their authority to investigate.

Under the present laws, investigation of corruption as a “special crime” falls under the overlapping jurisdiction of the KPK (for cases involving state officials) and the police and prosecutors.

The KPK was established in 2002, five years after the reformasi era, after the police and the prosecutors had lost public trust in combating corruption. In an apparent bid to win back public confidence, the police have been unusually aggressive of late in pursuing major corruption cases.

The rivalry between the KPK and police has been escalating since the Corruption Court prosecuted and convicted former National Traffic Police commander Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo in 2013 over a multibillion rupiah procurement scandal.

The ongoing attempt to grant the police a monopoly in graft investigations has come suspiciously at a time when the KPK-police conflict is still smoldering over the KPK’s botched move to name Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan a graft suspect earlier this year, a clash that ended up in KPK leaders being criminalized.

The flurry of political maneuvers to clip the wings of the KPK in recent months is consistent with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s wish to see the KPK shift focus from “eradication” to “prevention” of corruption, as he has publicly stated on different occasions. Such pronouncements have received strong support from lawmakers.

Jokowi believes that preventive measures would save the state more money. Additionally, unlike arrests and prosecutions, preventive tactics would minimize the political tumult that always follows a high-profile arrest.

“To create a corruption-free government, preventive measures, such as the introduction of electronic-based services like e-budgeting, e-procurement and online tax payments, are just as important as law enforcement,” the President has said.

Recent developments show that some political powers are testing the waters to strengthen the police and make the KPK a toothless tiger by reducing its job to that of a mere assistant to the police and prosecutors. Many have long feared such a development. Some of the KPK’s powers that have been targeted in particular include the organization’s wire tapping, investigative and prosecution powers.

These trends conspicuously began with the incrimination of the then KPK chief Abraham Samad, his deputy Bambang Widjajanto and senior investigator Novel Baswedan after the KPK had named Budi a graft suspect. Jokowi has since picked Taufiequrachman Ruki, an ex-police general, to head the KPK until the KPK’s definitive leadership is installed this coming December.

Just last week, Ruki installed two police generals in powerful posts in an apparent move to strengthen the police’s clout in the KPK at a time when the police are fiercely demanding the lion’s share of the right to probe graft. Sr. Comr. Aris Budianto, previously the National Police’s deputy director for investigations, was granted a post as KPK director for investigations, and Tanah Laut Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Setiadi was made the head of the KPK’s legal department bureau.

The police’s wish to see a lame KPK was well reflected by Brig. Gen. Basaria Panjaitan, a lecturer at the Police Academy, when she was interviewed as a candidate for a KPK leadership position last month.

She told the selection committee that the KPK should no longer “monopolize” graft investigations, and the right to probe should be relinquished to the police and that KPK power should be confined to a supportive role to assist the police and the prosecutors.

Interestingly, she has been selected as one of the 10 final candidates vying for endorsement from lawmakers, who will choose five of them to lead the KPK. And it looks like she has a good chance of securing support from lawmakers who have been unrelenting in their attempts to rein in the KPK, the organization that has sent dozens of their colleagues to prison.

While the KPK retains strong popular support, all eyes are now on the House.

Sumber: The Jakarta Post

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