In February, the Indonesian Parliament passed a controversial bill, referred to in the media as UU MD3. The most denounced aspect of the bill is that it potentially criminalizes anybody who criticizes any of the country’s legislative bodies, but another highly problematic article requires investigators to get permission from the president or the ethics council of a legislative body to question legislators about a criminal case.
The problem with that latter article was demonstrated just two weeks after UU MD3 went into effect in March, when Central Maluku Regional Council (DPRD) councilor Jimy G Sinatala crashed his car into a motorcycle taxi driver. Citing the new law, police said they were unable to even question Jimy until they received a warrant from the Central Maluku DPRD’s Ethics Council (MKD).
Yesterday, Frederik Radjawane, the father of the man killed in that accident, tearfully testified before the country’s Constitutional Court on behalf of a legal challenge to UU MD3.
“I ask the judges that this law be revised or revoked, because it is not in accordance with the spirit of humanity or the spirit of justice,” Frederik said before the court as quoted by Kompas.
The grieving father said he felt the new law had directly victimized him by denying him swift justice for his child’s death. He said the Ambon Police told him after the accident that they could not arrest the suspect because the MD3 law required that they get permission before questioning a legislator in a criminal case, even one involving a fatality.
Frederik said the police asked him to wait for three days while they coordinated with the new governor, but said that the permission did not actually come until 15 days later, after which Jimy was immediately detained.
With tears in his eyes, Frederick told the court that the law was unjust because it denies people, especially victims, legal certainty in police proceedings.
“So there was a long time span of time, from March 25 until April 25 (before Jimy was arrested), I feel upset the perpetrator was not immediately arrested. I pray that these incidents end with me and that they never happen to anybody else.”
Frederik was one of four people speaking on behalf of a Constitutional Court petition to overturn several specific articles in the MD3 Law. The petition was submitted by several parties including the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) and the Forum on Law and Constitutional Studies (FKHK).
Among those articles they are seeking to revoke is article 245, the one which requires investigators to get permission from either the president or the MKD in order to question legislators about criminal cases.
Also targeted by the petition is article 122, which gives a legislative body’s MKD the power to take legal action against individuals, groups or legal entities that “degrade the honor of the legislative body or its members” (as is typical in Indonesian legislation, what constitutes a “degradation” of honor is left undefined, leaving the door wide open for the law to be used to criminalize legitimate criticism of legislators) and article 73, which allows a legislative body to order the police to forcibly summon individuals for questioning.