Indonesia: ICJ calls on authorities to ensure right to a fair trial for Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court
The ICJ is calling on the Indonesian authorities to ensure that the proceedings against Justice Akil Mochtar fully comply with international law and standards on fair trial and the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.
Justice Mochtar, Chief Justice of Indonesia’s Constitutional Court (photo), is accused of taking a bribe to issue a favourable verdict in an election dispute.
Justice Mochtar was arrested on 2 October 2013 and remains in custody. According to a spokesperson for the Corruption Eradication Commission, he is alleged to have received a bribe, through several intermediaries, from Hambit Binti, a district chief whose re-election was contested.
The Constitutional Court has sole jurisdiction over disputes contesting the conduct or results of elections.
The ICJ calls for a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation of these serious allegations.
The impartiality of the judiciary is an essential condition for respect for the rule of law, and is undermined when judicial decisions are made on the basis of financial inducements rather than solely according to evidence and the law.
Integrity is vital to the proper discharge of judicial office, and any judge must ensure that his or her conduct is above reproach, maintaining and enhancing the confidence of the public in the impartiality of both the individual judge and the judiciary as a whole.
According to the Beijing Statement of Principles on Independence of the Judiciary in the LAWASIA Region, signed by 32 judicial heads of Asia Pacific States, including the Chief Justice of Indonesia, “Judges shall uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary by avoiding impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all their activities.”
At the same time, the ICJ stresses that any eventual criminal or disciplinary proceedings, should those be warranted, must respect the independence of the judiciary and Justice Mochtar’s right to a fair trial.
Judges charged with a criminal offence, like all other persons, have the right to a fair trial by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.
The right to a fair trial in criminal cases as recognized in Indonesia and under international law and standards, including Article 14(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, comprises a series of procedural and substantive safeguards that must be respected during the pre-trial and trial phases.
Sam Zarifi, ICJ Asia-Pacific Regional Director, Bangkok, tel. no. +66 8078 19002 or sam.zarifi(a)icj.org
Laurens Hueting, ICJ Associate Legal Adviser (International Law and Protection Programme), Geneva, tel. no. +41 22 979 3848 or laurens.hueting(a)icj.orgNewsWeb stories