[JURIST] The Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on Wednesday arrested the chief justice of the country’s constitutional court for allegedly accepting over USD $250,000 in bribes. Akil Mochtar was elected as chief justice for a five-year term which began in August, and the money confiscated from Mochtar’s house was said to be possibly linked to a disputed election [Reuters report] within the country. The constitutional court is responsible for final determinations on issues involving elections and institutions within the country, and it has the same level of power and legal standing [BBC report] as the country’s supreme court. A representative for the KPK reported that other individuals were also arrested in connection with the alleged bribery scandal.
The government of Indonesia has previously faced scrutiny for government policies that have been found to undermine human rights. In March the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Christof Heyns [official profile] urged the Indonesian government [JURIST report] to restrict the use of capital punishment to comply with their international human rights obligations after a Malawian national was executed by firing squad after being convicted on drug smuggling charges. In February a group of UN human rights experts joined together to urge Indonesia to amend [JURIST report] a Bill on Mass Organizations that was under consideration by the legislature. The UN experts feared that if the bill was left unchanged it would inhibit freedom of assembly, speech and religion and ultimately undermine the nation’s push toward democratization. In November the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Indonesia [JURIST report] to end discrimination. In July of last year an Indonesian cleric was imprisoned for violating [JURIST report] the nation’s blasphemy law. The international community criticized [JURIST report] Indonesia last March for the arrest of peaceful demonstrators.