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Setara, YLBHI urge disgraced chief justice to resign over ethical violations

CNN Indonesia - November 8, 2023

Jakarta – The Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy is urging Anwar Usman to resign from his position as a Constitutional Court (MK) judge after being proven to have committed a serious violation of the ethics code due to a conflict of interest in the court's ruling on the minimum age limit for presidential and vice presidential candidates.

As has been reported, in the Constitutional Court Honorary Council (MKMK) ruling, Usman was only removed as the Constitutional Court chief justice and prohibited from taking part in future hearings that could potentially give rise to a conflict of interest.

"The MKMK decision is a momentary opium and an antidote to address the public's anger which was disappointed and angry with the 90/PUU-XXI/2023 decision [to change the minimum age limit], which has became a culmination of constitutional evil and the death of democracy in Indonesia", read an official statement by Setara Institute management board chairperson Ismail Hasani on Wednesday November 8.

Hasani said that the public's angry reaction to the Constitutional Court's ruling on the minimum age for presidential candidates was not just over the issue of smoothing the way for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo eldest son Gibran Rakabuming Raka to step forward in the 2024 presidential elections. But also about how power can interfere in legal affairs and the country's constitution.

"Democracy has transformed into vetocracy, where a very limited group of people and interest groups, have orchestrated the Constitutional Court to make it easier for Gibran Rakabuming Raka to participate in the presidential elections by blocking the will of democracy and the constitution", said Hasani, who is also known as a lecturer in constitutional law at the Jakarta Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University (UIN).

Setara believes that the MKMK's decision proved that the court's earlier ruling regarding the requirement for a vice presidential candidate was not decided "for the sake of justice based on belief in the Almighty God", as stated in the Constitutional Court's ruling, but rather, continued Hasani, was made in the interests of cultivating power.

On this basis, Hasani said that they are of the opinion that Usman should resign from his position as a Constitutional Court judge. "The Setara Institute is urging Anwar Usman to resign from his position as a MK judge, so that it will no longer a burden on the court", he said.

Separately, the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) and its 18 Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) offices across Indonesia said that the MKMK's decision on Usman's ethical code violations is still problematic and does irreparable damage to the principle of equality before the law.

"It hurts the sense of justice of citizens who have long been traumatised by the New Order government [of former president Suharto] where corruption, collusion and nepotism destroyed the basic pillars of national life, namely the rule of law, democracy and human rights. The MKMK's misguided justice is repeating the same mistakes", read a joint statement by the YLBHI and the LBH offices on Wednesday.

"We are disappointed with the MKMK panel's decision because the decision is a compromise on the disgraceful actions of the chief justice of the Constitutional Court. The MKMK should have made a decision to dishonorably dismiss him. Aside from this, the MKMK made a mistake by allowing the earlier 90/PUU-XXI/2023 ruling to remain in force, which should have been declared invalid", they added.

The YLBHI and its regional offices said that the MKMK decision that was read out on Tuesday November 7 appears to confirm the public's doubts about the ad hoc panel led by Jimly Asshiddiqie.

"If you abide with the prevailing legal provisions under Article 41 c in conjunction with Article 47 of Constitutional Court Regulation Number 1/2023 on the Constitutional Court Honorary Council and are consistent with the legal facts proven by Anwar Usman's serious violations, the entire MKMK panel of judges should have decided to dismiss Anwar Usman from his position as a MK judge and as MK chief justice, not just dismissing him as chief justice of the MK", said the YLBHI.

Out of the three MKMK members, only Bintan R Saragih had a dissenting opinion that Anwar Usman should be dishonorably dismissed from the Constitutional Court all together.

Furthermore, the YLBHI and its regional offices believe that Usman's presence will become a burden and a time bomb for the Constitutional Court related to the issue of its integrity, independence and impartiality as a the guardian of democracy and the constitution.

"Therefore, YLBHI and the 18 LBH offices urge Anwar Usman as the perpetrator of nepotism to be self-aware and immediately resign as a Constitutional Court judge because he is no longer fit to hold that position", they said.

Earlier, the MKMK decided that Usman was proven to have committed a serious ethical violation related to a conflict of interest in the Constitutional Court's ruling that granted an appeal on the minimum age requirement for vice presidential candidates.

The MKMK also removed Usman from his position as chief justice and prohibited him from nominating himself or being nominated as the head of the Constitutional Court until his term as constitutional judge ends.

Responding to demands that he resign from the Constitutional Court, Usman said he has consistently stated that the position belongs to God, as he did when questioned by the MKMK. Therefore he claimed that he will continue to participate in and carry out his activities as a constitutional judge.

"Yes, yes, [I will still carry out my duties as a member of the MK judges], this position belongs to Allah", said Usman at the Constitutional Court building in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Then at today's press conference, Usman denied all of the accusations that he was involved in a conflict of interest in ruling on the requirements for running as a presidential and vice presidential candidate. (dis/kid)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "SETARA Desak Anwar Usman Mundur dari MK Usai Langgar Etik Berat".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20231108124917-12-1021463/setara-desak-anwar-usman-mundur-dari-mk-usai-langgar-etik-bera