Commission authority to wiretap goes ‘over the top’
Activists from several legal organizations grouped under the Justice Monitoring Coalition said the Judicial Commission should not have the authority to wiretap as it was not a law enforcement agency.
The statement was issued in the wake of recent developments at the House of Representatives regarding a bill to amend the 2004 Judicial Commission Law to empower the commission, which is widely considered toothless.
The House commission deliberating the bill plans to grant the commission several powers, including wiretapping to weed out rogue judges, but activists said such powers were “over the top”.
The activists said the Judicial Commission’s scope of authority was limited to supervising and monitoring judges’ adherence to their code of ethics and did not include criminal law enforcement.
They cited the information and electronic transaction law, “which firmly states that wiretapping
conversations is illegal unless it is done in the context of law enforcement”.
“In other words, the authority to wiretap conversations should only be delegated to law enforcement agencies such as the police, the AGO or the Corruption Eradication Commission [KPK], and not to the Judicial Commission,” Astriyani, a researcher at the Institution for the Advocacy and Study of Justice Independence (LeIP), told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
“This clearly shows us that members of the House, especially from Commission III [overseeing the matter], are clueless about the Indonesian legal system,” Dimas Prasidi, another researcher at LeIP, added.
Dimas said the argument that the Judicial Commission could use such an authority to uncover case broker rings was irrelevant.
“Should the Commission find indications of such practices, they could report it to law enforcement agencies — the police, the AGO, and the KPK — instead of investigating the case themselves,” Dimas said.
He added that failure to comply with the procedure could potentially create a messy law enforcement system, in which a crime committed by a court official could be forcefully resolved in the ethical domain.
“The House members’ insistence on passing the bill could be seen as wilfully defying a verdict issued by the Constitutional Court,” Andi Muttaqien, a researcher at the Social Study and Advocacy Institution, said, referring to a Court verdict last February ordering the government to create a distinctive, all-encompassing law to regulate the wiretapping of conversations.
The Judicial Commission has taken a neutral stance in the debate.
“Our position is that we will implement the law as passed by the lawmakers,” Judicial Commission spokesman Asep Rahmat Fajar told the Jakarta Post on Tuesday. “It is not our position to support or reject the bill.”
Asep said the authority to wiretap conversations would certainly improve the commission’s performance. “However, we acknowledge that this is a sensitive issue.”
He added that proposed powers be aligned to other related laws and conform to principles of human rights.
“I hope these issues are also discussed at the House, so the resulting law brings benefits to all involved,” Asep said. (mim)