Fight against corruption in Indonesia stalled by lack of judges

Fight against corruption in Indonesia stalled by lack of judges

INDONESIA - The fight against corruption has come up against yet another hurdle with the Supreme Court admitting it struggles to recruit quality judges for corruption cases.

The court announced on Friday that only one out of 40 candidates for the fifth batch of ad hoc antigraft judges passed the selection test, making the court's own target for antigraft judge recruitment seem somewhat unattainable.

The Supreme Court aims to have 244 ad hoc judges for 33 lower and 30 high courts nationwide in 2014. Last year, even after the Supreme Court extended the process, only 4 out of 53 candidates were selected to fill the lower and high court posts. Eighty-four ad hoc corruption judges were selected in July 2011, 82 in November 2010 and 23 in February 2010, making a total of 193.

"It is hard to find judges in Indonesia, whether ad hoc judges, career judges or justices," Supreme Court spokesman Ridwan Mansyur said on Friday.

"We cannot do anything but employ the existing ad hoc judges. And they must work harder as there are plenty of graft cases [...] we have included professional and public representatives on the selection panel [but] the panel could only manage to find one judge," he said.

The Supreme Court invited several people to sit on the 10-member panel, including Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) deputy head Bambang Widjojanto.

The panel also asked for input from the Judicial Commission and a coalition of NGOs - consisting of Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), the Indonesian Legal Roundtable (ILR) and the Indonesian Judicial Watch Society (MAPPI) at the University of Indonesia.

In their recommendation, the Judicial Commission urged the Supreme Court and the selection panel to scrutinize 30 out of 40 names, or 75 per cent, for accepting bribes or gratuities, misusing their authority, adultery or unethical acts. The coalition found 18 names, or 45 per cent of the selected, to have questionable integrity.

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