Sat, 18 Mar 2000

Ombudsman to watch over law enforcement

JAKARTA (JP): The head of the National Ombudsman Commission, Antonius Sujata, said on Friday he would prioritize the supervision of law enforcement, including the provision of public legal services in his newly appointed post.

Antonius told The Jakarta Post on Friday the recently established body would first concentrate on overseeing the work of the police, the prosecutors office and district courts in Jakarta because most complaints derived from the capital.

"There are so many complaints from people that they often have to bribe to win a case in the courts, or they have to pay to get through the red tape if they report a case to the police," Antonius said.

According to Antonius, there were also many complaints of irregularity at the prosecutors office.

He added that there continued to be recrimination about the work of the police concerning such simple matters as obtaining a drivers license.

People have to pay higher fees than the official rate, he noted.

The ombudsman will convey the results of the investigation on complaints it receives to the related state agencies for further follow ups. The office will also closely cooperate with several non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Anton insisted.

"People want much better public services from our law enforcers," said Antonius.

President Abdurrahman Wahid, through decree No. 44, dated March 10, 2000, appointed Anton to head the new body.

Sunaryati Hartono, a professor of law at state Pajajaran University in Bandung will serve as deputy.

Anton was former deputy attorney general of special crimes. He was relieved of his post early last year while investigating the alleged corruption case against former president Soeharto.

The ombudsman's office will also comprise of six members: Bagir Manan, a professor of law at Pajajaran University; Teten Masduki, the coordinator of Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW); businesswoman Sri Urip; Surachman and lawyers Pradjoto and Masdar Farid Masudi.

Most of the members of the new body have established a name through their determination in uncovering bad cases of corruption in the past year.

Teten's disclosure about Andi Ghalib's alleged graft cases led to Ghalib's suspension as attorney general.

Pradjoto sparked an uproar last year when he disclosed the Bank Bali scandal which allegedly involved several top aides of then president B.J. Habibie's.

The scandal was regarded as a key factor which led to a rejection of Habibie's presidential accountability speech in October by the People's Consultative Assembly.

"The President will officially install us on Monday," said Anton.

Another priority for Anton is to promote the new body to the public and help prepare a bill which would form the legal basis for the work of the ombudsman.

"The establishment of this new ombudsman is only based on a presidential decree, in the future it will be strengthened by a special law," said Anton.

According to the presidential decree, the ombudsman has the authority to "make clarifications, monitor or investigate based on public reports about state organizations, especially its implementation by the government apparatus, including law enforcement bodies during their public services."

It is also stipulated that the aims of the new body is to create a conducive environment for the eradication of corruption, collusion and nepotism, along with the protection of the rights of the general public in receiving pubic services, justice and better welfare.

The work of the ombudsman will be financed by the state through the State Secretariat's budget.

The establishment of the ombudsman was one of President Abdurrahman's initiatives to improve the work of a clean and accountable government.

He recently also established a National Commission of Law, which is chaired by J.E. Sahetapy and has proposed former state prosecutor Baharuddin Lopa chair a commission to examine the wealth of state officials.

Abdurrahman was also one of the first to suggest the nomination of Benjamin Mangkoedilaga to the Supreme Court.

On Friday the President reiterated his intention to nominate Benjamin.

"I do believe he is still the best person to create a clean and strong Supreme Court," he said. (prb)