Ethics are Not enough, Investigate the Allegations as Criminal
To restore public trust, the justices must demonstrate their support for resolving the case through the existing legal mechanisms.
JAKARTA, KOMPAS – The Constitutional Court (MK) announced on Monday (30/1/2023) the formation of an honorary council to investigate allegations that changes were made to the court’s decision related to the dismissal of justice Aswanto. However, several parties deem that an ethics approach through a council is insufficient. Changes made to the court’s decision can be seen as criminal and must be reported and investigated by law enforcement authorities.
“Law enforcement is needed to ensure that criminal acts of forgery or related crimes can support the ethical enforcement process,” said Gadjah Mada University (UGM) constitutional law lecturer, Herlambang P. Wiratraman, in response to allegations that changes were made to the court’s decision and the court’s response to form an honorary council to investigate the matter.
The court decision in question is case No. 103/2022, the substance of which was allegedly changed. This decision is connected to the judicial review of Law No. 7/2020 concerning the Constitutional Court. The word “therefore” was changed to “in the future” in the considerations of the decision on page 51. This slight change evokes very different meanings and is deemed significant (Kompas, 27/1/2023).
This case is related to when the House of Representatives replaced Constitutional Court justice Aswanto during his term of office. Guntur Hamzah, Aswanto’s replacement, read the decision a few hours after he was appointed to the post. Guntur was previously the court’s secretary-general before he was sworn in as a justice on 23 November 2022.
Herlambang is of the view that law enforcement in this case is not too complex as there is a clear chronological order of events. It only requires tracking those involved in changing the copy of the decision after it was read out by the panel of judges. If it is found that the justices were involved in the incident, they must resign as it is a serious violation and could undermine public trust in the institution.
To restore public trust, he continued, the justices must demonstrate their support for resolving the case through the existing legal mechanisms.
Advocate Zico Leonard Djagardo Simanjuntak, who discovered the alleged change in the substance of the decision in case No. 103/2022, stated that he would report his findings to the Jakarta Police on Wednesday (1/2). According to Zico, criminal law measures were needed to encourage the court to immediately resolve the matter.
“As was seen in the Ferdy Sambo case, there must first be an ethical decision before a conviction. Because of that, the honorary council must work quickly in its investigation before the police name a suspect,” he said.
The formation of the honorary council was announced at a press conference by the court’s Chief Justice Anwar Usman at the Constitutional Court in Jakarta on Monday afternoon. Usman stated that the establishment of an honorary council was agreed upon by nine court justices in a justice deliberation meeting that was held prior to the press conference. Now, the formation of the honorary council only awaits the signing of a court decree.
“The honorary council will start working on Wednesday (1/2). It is hoped that the honorary council will complete the task or mandate given to them within 30 days,” he said.
A constitutional court justice who is also the court’s spokesperson, Enny Nurbaningsih, said that the justices could not resolve the allegations alone. That is why they had agreed to form an honorary council to investigate the allegations.
“In the name of fairness, we leave it to the honorary council to resolve this issue. Thus, in principle, we will soon have a decree so they can start as soon as possible and clear things up,” said Enny.
There are three people who make up the honorary council. Apart from Enny, there is also UGM law professor Sudjito, who was previously the only active member of the Constitutional Court Ethics Council, and former Constitutional Court justice I Dewa Gede Palguna. (Z06)
This article was translated by Kesya Adhalia.