Human Rights Commission says banning corruption convicts from elections not human rights violation

The 18th Plenary Session of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) on February 14, 2018. Photo: @DPR_RI / Instagram
The 18th Plenary Session of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) on February 14, 2018. Photo: @DPR_RI / Instagram

Indonesia’s General Election Commission (KPU) is adamant about implementing a rule, starting with the regional elections taking place in 2019, barring individuals who have been convicted of corruption from running for office. What is surprising (to some) is how much resistance the KPU is facing over this seemingly straightforward (and long overdue) rule change, with political parties arguing that such a regulation would constitute a violation of corruption convicts’ human rights.

With tensions high and threats of lawsuits against the KPU over the rule change on the table, Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has stepped in, in its capacity as the country’s arbiter of human rights, to say that barring corruption convicts from running in elections actually isn’t a human rights violation.

Komnas HAM Chairman Ahmad Taufan Damanik argued that political rights fell within a category of rights that could be diminished to address other more pressing rights concerns.  

“In principle, it is not prohibited to reduce one’s political rights because political rights are not absolute human rights,” Taufan said at the Parliament Complex in Jakarta yesterday as quoted by Kompas.

Taufan said that the KPU was concerned with upholding the best interests of the Indonesian people to have elections filled with qualified candidates and run with integrity, something that outweighs the political rights of those who have been proven by law to have stolen money from the state and the people.

However, Taufan did say that the KPU should further discuss the rule change with political parties and the government so that they could reach an understanding to prevent further conflict.

Previously, the KPU said it would go ahead with plans to implement the new regulation, despite the opposition, with KPU Commissioner Wahyu Setiawan said they’d rather pass the regulation and see it get challenged in court then not implement it at all.

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