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Government set to repeal subversion law

Jakarta Post - January 11, 1999

Jakarta – The government is scheduled to repeal the Subversion Law next week in response to fierce public criticism and in order to bring the Criminal Code into accordance with the recently approved anti-torture convention.

Antara quoted Romli Atmasasmita, the director general for laws and legislation at the Ministry of Justice as saying in Bandung on Saturday that the move was the government's response to strong public protests of the subversion law, which when applied, often trampled on human rights.

Romli was speaking at the launch of the book titled Thoughts on Laws on Entering the 21st Century which contains 39 works by legal experts and analysts.

He told a audience of law experts, including former foreign minister Mochtar Kusumaatmadja and Sri Soemantri Martosoewignjo, that under the New Order regime in particular, the mere suspicion of subversive activities was enough to lead to detention for more than one year.

Romli, who is also a criminal law expert at Padjadjaran University, said the practice was a gross violation human rights. The repeal of the subversion law, he said, is also associated with the government's approval of the Anti-Torture Convention. In anticipation of its implementation, he said, the government was also revising the criminal code in accordance with the convention.

Next week, the government will also place on the House of Representatives' agenda bills on a clean government free from collusion, corruption and nepotism; human rights; arbitration; consumer protection and a revision of the bankruptcy law.

Also next week, Romli added, the Ministry of Justice is scheduled to submit a presidential decree to the State Secretariat on the establishment of a commission to audit the wealth of government officials.

Comprising government officials and members of the public, the commission will be installed by and be accountable to the President. It will also answer to both to the State Audit Board and the House of Representatives. Romli said that by virtue of the decree, the commission will be authorized to audit the wealth of the President Cabinet members, legislators and governors, before, during and after their respective terms of office.

He added that the current Development Reform Cabinet which only had one year to carry out its programs, had been working on 44 draft laws 80 percent of which were initiated and drawn up by the Ministry of Justice at a cost of Rp 11 billion in the 1999/2000 fiscal year. Among these bills was one dealing . with the establishment of a militia and one regulating the 1999 general election and political parties.

Under the political parties bill, he added, the parties will be required to report to and register with the Ministry of Justice rather than with the General Election Institute or the Ministry of Home Affairs as was the practice in the past.