Political approvals required to investigate regional politicians (Law No. 32 of 2004)

Law No. 32 of 2004 on Regional Government requires written approval from President or the Minister of Home Affairs before the police or state prosecutors can initiate an investigation against a regional head or local representative council member. This requirement often causes causes long delays for some corruption cases, sometimes over a year.  The reasons given for the delays come in various permutations:

  • Local investigators claim they have sent the request, but they’re unsure whether it’s been sent from the Attorney General’s office in Jakarta to the President
  • Investigators claim it has been sent to the President, but that it has been lost at the State Secretariat
  • Investigators claim it has been sent to the President, but that they’ve not received confirmation of receipt and therefore can’t begin to count the 60 days
  • Investigators claim that it has been signed by the President, but the letter has been lost at the State Secretariat, Home Affairs or the central Attorney General’s office.

It seems that this requirement provides a convenient way for all parties to pass the buck and justify inaction; a classic strategy of delaying an investigation.  There’s also the doctrinal question of whether this violates the principal of equality before the law.  Below I’ve translated the two articles from the relevant legislation.

For regional heads and deputy heads, i.e. governors and mayors:

Article 36

(1) Initiation of an pre-investigaton (penyelidikan) and investigation (penyidikan) into a regional head and/or deputy regional head will be taken after written approval of the President upon the request of investigators.

(2) In the situation where written approval as referred to in paragraph (1) is not provided by the President in within 60 (sixty) days from the receipt of the request, the process of pre-investigation and investigation may continue.

Pasal 36

(1) Tindakan penyelidikan dan penyidikan terhadap kepala daerah dan/atau wakil kepala daerah dilaksanakan setelah adanya persetujuan tertulis dari Presiden atas permintaan penyidik.

(2) Dalam hal persetujuan tertulis sebagaimana dimaksud pada ayat (1) tidak diberikan oleh Presiden dalam waktu paling lambat 60 (enam puluh) hari terhitung sejak diterimanya permohonan, proses penyelidikan dan penyidikan dapat dilakukan.

For members of provincial and district representative councils:

Article 53

(1)  Initiation of an investigation (penyidikan) into a regional council representative requires the written approval from the Minister of the Interior on behalf of the President for provincial council representatives and from the Governor on behalf of the Minister of Home Affairs for district or city council members.

(2) In the situation where written approval as referred to in paragraph (1) is not provided within 60 (sixty) days from the receipt of the request, the process of investigation may continue.

Pasal 53

(1) Tindakan penyidikan terhadap anggota DPRD dilaksanakan setelah adanya persetujuan tertulis dari Menteri Dalam Negeri atas nama Presiden bagi anggota DPRD provinsi dari Gubernur atas nama Menteri Dalam Negeri bagi anggota DPRD kabupaten/kota.

(2) Dalam hal persetujuan tertulis sebagaimana dimaksud pada ayat (1) tidak diberikan dalam waktu paling lambat 60 (enam puluh) hari semenjak diterimanya permohonan, proses penyidikan dapat dilakukan.

I’ve uploaded the entire law here for those interested: UU 32 2004 Pemerintahan Daerah.

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2 thoughts on “Political approvals required to investigate regional politicians (Law No. 32 of 2004)

  1. […] requests for presidential permission to investigate regional heads.  As I wrote yesterday (see here), written permission is required from the president to initiate a pre-investigation or […]

  2. […] permission to investigate Governors and District Heads in corruption investigations–see here and here.  Article 36 (3), which requires presidential permission to arrest regional heads, was […]

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