Erwida Maulia , The Jakarta Post
The government has announced plans to conduct public tests of a much-disputed draft regulation on wiretaps, which critics say could undermine corruption eradication efforts.
Information and Communications Minister Tifatul Sembiring, whose ministry drew up the draft regulation, said Monday the government was looking forward to “boosting public acceptance of the draft with the public test”, as quoted by detik.com.
He said the draft was currently “being synchronized” by the Justice and Human Rights Ministry, and played down speculation that it would be endorsed as early as April.
The 2002 Corruption Law authorizes the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to use wiretaps in its investigations.
All other law enforcement institutions, including the Attorney General’s Office and the National Police, are granted similar powers under their respective laws.
Unlike the KPK, however, which can wiretap a suspect without first getting a warrant, the AGO and the police must run their requests by a judge before they can do any wiretapping.
The regulation being drafted by the Information and Communications Ministry will effectively annul the KPK’s privileges.
Under the draft, the antigraft body will need a warrant from the Central Jakarta District Court before it can wiretap corruption suspects.
The draft regulation also mandates the establishment of a national center for wiretaps, authorized to supervise the practice.
Antigraft activists have decried the ministry’s draft regulation, saying the complex bureaucracy inherent in such a process would make it difficult for the KPK to mount an effective fight against corruption.
They claim the porous nature of the country’s courts, long considered a hotbed of corruption, would allow information about wiretap targets to be leaked prior to a warrant being issued.
The ministry has insisted on bulldozing its regulation through to implementation, following the Constitutional Court’s decision to allow wiretapped conversations indicating a high-level conspiracy to be played back to the public last year.
The conversations were between businessman Anggodo Widjojo, the younger brother of fugitive graft suspect Anggoro Widjojo, and several high-ranking AGO and police officials, and revolved around a plot to frame KPK deputy chairmen Chandra M. Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto for bribery.
Indonesia Corruption Watch’s (ICW) Danang Widoyoko accused the ministry of trying to weaken the KPK through the proposed regulation.
Lawyer Iskandar Sonhaji said it would be difficult for the KPK to get warrants from the district court, particularly if the investigation involved court officials, “considering the rampant judicial corruption in this country”.
He added the regulation would hinder the antigraft commission in carrying out its job, pointing out most cases successfully prosecuted by the KPK were cracked through the use of wiretaps.