INDONESIA: Media told to play bigger role in antigraft drive
Two Norwegian advisors say that media can play unique role in encouraging whistle-blowing, deterring would-be corruptors, and empowering public to act against foul play
The Jakarta Post
Saturday, March 5, 2005
By Hera Diani
"Deep Throat", Sherron Watkins and Mordechai Vanunu are three of the most famous whistle-blowers in history, and respectively blew the lids of Watergate, the Enron scandal and Israel's illicit nuclear arsenal.
The role of whistle-blowers has long been known to be crucial in the fight against corruption. Therefore, according to two prominent anticorruption activists, the media needs to encourage more whistle-blowers here to come forward to help in the fight against corruption.
Norwegian Eva Joly told a discussion on Friday that it was easier for journalists to seek insider information from whistle-blowers than the police.
"If sources give documents to the media, it is as efficient as giving them to the police. The media could initiate the investigation...that's what happens in Norway," said Joly, a special advisor to the Norwegian government in the fight against corruption and money laundering.
Also speaking during the discussion was Joly's assistant, Anne-Mette Dyrnes.
Joly said the media had a strategic role to play in the war against corruption due to its accessibility to the public.
However, the problem with Indonesia was the absence of witness protection legislation, something that discouraged people from coming forward to report graft cases.
"We cannot fight serious crime without the assistance of civil society. Therefore, the protection of witnesses and whistle-blowers by law needs to be put in place as soon as possible," said Dyrnes.
Without such a law, whistle-blowers could easily find themselves up facing libel suits and the media would not be able to protect them.
One whistle-blower, Endin Wahyudin, was found guilty of bribing three judges in 2002, even though the judges accused of taking the bribes were all acquitted.
Another problem faced by the media in developing countries was the limited access to public information, unlike the circumstances prevailing in developed countries like Norway.
"Here, there is also a need for the consent of the President to initiate an investigation into corruption. This requirement needs to be abolished," said Dyrnes.
Both Joly and Dyrnes said that the effectiveness of the media in fighting corruption depended on how far it could access sources. The media also needed to heighten people's awareness about how to file complaints and furnish information.
"There should be a system to take care of people's complaints and information. Ordinary people should be able to find out where they can file complaints, and the media should inform them about the procedures," said Joly, who was among the initiators of the Paris Declaration, an international instrument to reduce corruption in the global financial field.
The important thing for the media was to keep up the pressure on the corruptors.
"One thing that can be done immediately is to focus on people's wealth. Ask where they got their money from. Go and ask questions rather than waiting for the KPK to verify it," Joly said, referring to the Corruption Eradication Commission.
Aside from urging an increased role for the media in combating corruption, Joly and Dyrnes also made a number of recommendations.
* The anticorruption efforts should be capable of being applied retroactively.
* The responsibility of the KPK should cover the laundering of the proceeds of corruption and other related crimes, as stated in the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
* The penal provisions on corruption should be reviewed and amended to make them clearer and more accessible to law enforcement agencies and the judiciary, and there should be no room for impunity for those returning the proceeds of a crime.
* The prosecution service should be more independent and less bureaucratic, for instance, by reducing the number of hierarchical levels in the service.
* Training and capacity-building for law enforcement agencies are also essential, as well as the employing of permanent staff by the KPK and the Financial Transaction and Report Analysis Center (PPATK) to ensure continuity, stability and engagement in combating corruption.
* A more multidisciplinary approach in all law enforcement agencies, increases in budgetary resources, more efficient organization of the KPK leadership, and a greater level of international cooperation are also required.
Date Posted: 3/7/2005