Foto: Dok.ICW

Violated Ethics, Yet Still Inaugurated

President of Indonesia Joko Widodo (Jokowi) inaugurated Arief Hidayat as a Justice of the Constitutional Court on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. Arief will serve his second term between 2018 and 2023. He has previously been a Justice of the Constitutional Court since 2013, however, some have expressed disappointment on his re-inauguration, due to a track record of ethical violations.

In 2016, Arief committed an ethical violation for “entrusting” his relative to Deputy Attorney General for Supervision, Widyo Pramono. This relative was the Deputy Attorney on duty at the State Attorney’s Office of Trenggalek, East Java.

Another ethical violation was committed before the fit and proper test of the candidate Justices of the Constitutional Court in late 2017. He was known to meet unofficially with some of the leaders of the House of Representatives Commission III at Hotel Ayana Midplaza.

President Jokowi refused to respond to the debates surrounding Arief, and still insisted on inaugurating him. He argued that it was not him who chose Arief, but the House of Representatives. He was reluctant to intervene in the ethical matters, which he believed were in the domain of the Constitutional Court.  

The rejection of the re-appointment of Arief as a Justice of the Constitutional Court came from various parties, such as the Coalition for Judicial Monitoring. According to the Coalition, Arief’s inauguration could be seen as an attempt to decimate the Constitutional Court. Arief was judged to have undertaken inappropriate actions, such as sending a katabelece (‘unofficial business’) letter and meeting with members of the DPR before the fit and proper test.

In addition, the pressure to reject Arief also emerged from 77 professors who demanded him to step down from his position as a Justice of the Constitutional Court. The rejection to Arief is also reflected in the online change.org petition platform. As of March 26, 2018, 15,383 netizens expressed support for Arief’s dismissal.

After the inauguration, the Constitutional Court will soon decide the chairman. However, Arief is not allowed to return as Chairman because he has served the Constitutional Court for two periods, namely 2015 and 2017. The Constitutional Court Law regulates that the Chairman and Vice Chairman are limited to two terms. The election of the new Chief Justice will be held on Monday, April 4, 2018.

Jokowi's decision to re-inaugurate Arief Hidayat is highly regrettable. Jokowi even seemed to washhis hands by referring to the issue as one of the House of Representatives’ and the Constitutional Court’s. The President should have contributed to ensuring that an institution such as the Constitutional Court is filled by a person of capacity and integrity.

The public is rightly disappointed over the re-election of Arief as a Justice of the Constitutional Court. This institution has the gravitas to guard the constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, so that individuals with less than perfect track records should not belong there. Although no longer the Chairman of the Constitutional Court, Arief Hidayat should resign from his position as a Constitutional Justice. (Egi/Emerson)

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