UN General Assembly Special Session on Corruption (UNGASS Corruption 2021):
Indonesian Government Fails to Prove Its Anti-Corruption Commitment among the Member States
Jakarta, June 4th 2021
From June 2nd to 4th, 2021, the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in New York, United States of America, has held the first Special Session to focus on corruption. The session is the mandate from the General Assembly Resolution 73/191, which was adopted on December 17th, 2018. The global civil society groups consider UNGASS to provide an opportunity to stimulate international anti-corruption cooperation and develop new standards and mechanisms in the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
At the forum, UN Member States have adopted a joint political declaration on global anti-corruption action. In the adoption session, representatives of Member States were allowed to respond, including the Government of Indonesia, represented by the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations, H.E. Mohammad Kurniadi Koba. The Government of Indonesia expressed various views, including the government’s anti-corruption priorities and policies as well as the recommendations for the other Member States.
Transparency International Indonesia (TI Indonesia) views that the statement by the Representative of the Government of Indonesia at the UNGASS forum is negligent in its anti-corruption policy and tends not to promote a progressive anti-corruption commitment, in which the three notes include:
- The Corruption Eradication Commission is not a government priority. The absence of a strategic role for an Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) in the Indonesian government’s corruption eradication scheme is a regression compared to the efforts of many Member States. Moreover, the absence of discourse on anti-corruption bodies in the statement directly contradicts the political declarations agreed in the UNGASS forum, which have bound the Member States to ensure that anti-corruption bodies can exercise their powers effectively and freely, without undue political influence.
This situation confirms the current shift in the Government’s anti-corruption approach, particularly after the controversial amendments to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Law in 2019. The enactment of Law Number 19 of 2019, which changes the institutional structure and essential authority of the KPK, has raised doubts from the international community, especially from the business world and experts, on the Government’s seriousness in carrying out its anti-corruption commitments. TI Indonesia noted that the Government’s efforts to change the legal basis of the KPK have further distanced Indonesia from fulfilling its international obligations, especially in compliance with articles 6 and 36 of UNCAC, which encourage the Member States to guarantee strong independence authority of anti-corruption bodies.
- Inconsistency between commitment and implementation. Representatives of the Government of Indonesia in this UN forum acknowledged that enhanced systematic efforts are needed to prevent cross-jurisdictional corruption cases, including cooperation between countries in asset recovery. This statement contradicts Indonesia’s current legal, political conditions, which do not show a solid commitment to asset recovery.
TI Indonesia sees weak commitment from the Government to resolve regulatory barriers and the lack of law enforcers’ capacity in asset recovery work. Unfortunately, these facts were not responded to by immediately ratifying the Asset Confiscation Bill. The absence of the ratification of the bill since 2008 underscores the lack of political commitment by the Government. In contrast, political will is the main factor determining the success or failure of an effort to recover assets, especially those located abroad.
This legal limitation was also not managed by the Government by strengthening its activities in international forums, such as cooperation between countries and the asset recovery working group. The Government has often been ineffective in using the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) mechanism or through the StAR procedure coordinated by the UN.
- The Government is not serious of fulfilling its global anti-corruption commitments. The Government responded positively to the joint political declaration adopted in the UNGASS forum, including encouraging the Member States to maximize the synergy between countries. However, TI Indonesia’s evidence shows that the Government is frequently inconsistent in implementing its anti-corruption promises in global forums.
In terms of fulfilling UNCAC commitments, the Government of Indonesia has failed to fulfill 32 recommendations from the first round of UNCAC reviews, where Indonesia has only completed about eight recommendations. Meanwhile, of the 21 recommendations from the second round of reviews, Indonesia has only completed about 13 recommendations.
Previously, the KPK had repeatedly suggested that the Government and the Indonesian House of Representatives prioritize six priority issues that needed to be resolved from Indonesia’s Round I and II UNCAC Reviews recommendations. Unfortunately, none of the priority regulations have been finalized to date; in fact, the Government and the Parliament amend the KPK Law, which is not recommended from the UNCAC review results.
In 2012, Indonesia was the host of an international meeting of anti-corruption bodies. Moreover, there was a joint initiative and declaration known as The Jakarta Statement on Principles for Anti-corruption. It contains the principles that the agreed state should carry out. In addition, Indonesia as the host should be consistent with the principles of strengthening and independence of anti-corruption bodies, including the KPK.
At the same time, the Government has not yet fulfilled the High-Level Commitments that have been proposed and agreed upon in various international forums, such as commitments in the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group (2012-2018), Anti-Corruption Summit (2016 ), and the International Anti-Corruption Conference (2018). Moreover, Indonesia’s international anti-corruption commitments tend to be non-specific and difficult to measure. Evaluation conducted by TI Indonesia shows that there are no transparent standards and inclusive public participation in monitoring the Government’s commitments, so there is no guarantee that these commitments are carried out effectively.
Taking the three notes above into account, TI Indonesia encourages the Government of Indonesia to:
- Immediately identify and evaluate international anti-corruption commitments. The government needs to actively and periodically publish information on the status of various international anti-corruption commitments so that the public can be involved in the process of monitoring these commitments. The government also needs to strengthen its political commitments and redouble its efforts to achieve the international commitments it has made. One of the government’s commitments can be measured in compliance with various initiatives that have been ratified and used as joint guidelines. Therefore, the Government’s commitment to efforts to eradicate corruption also needs to be proven by strengthening the anti-corruption agency, the KPK, by maintaining the independence of the KPK institution in accordance with UNCAC ratification and the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Principles.
- Immediately accelerate the fulfillment of the commitments from the first and second rounds of UNCAC reviews. The Indonesian government needs to actively coordinate with the DPR RI and related Ministries/Agencies in identifying priorities for fulfilling the results of the UNCAC review. In this case, it can refer to six priority policies, among others: Completion of the Revision of the Corruption Law; Increasing the Transparency and Integrity of the Public Sector and Strengthening the Implementation of Bureaucratic Reforms; Increasing Private Sector Transparency and Integrity; Completion of the Revision of the Law on Mutual Legal Aid in Criminal Matters; Strengthening the Independence and Institutions of Anti-Corruption Institutions; and Completion of the Draft Asset Confiscation Law.
- Immediately establish an Expert Working Group to follow up on the recommendations of the 2021 UNGASS forum. The Government needs to form a special committee consisting of representatives of the Government, law enforcement, business groups, civil society groups, mass media, and academics to develop more strategic steps to follow up on the results recommendations from the political declaration UNGASS 2021 forum.All processes, mechanisms, and knowledge products that will be produced need to be communicated openly, participative, and accessible to the general public. This information is essential so that the community can support the implementation of global anti-corruption commitments, both those contained in the UNGASS 2021 forum and international obligations in other relevant forums. This collaboration is expected to integrate commitment and implementation in the long term.
Alvin Nicola, Researcher at TI Indonesia: firstname.lastname@example.org