The Constitutional Court of Indonesia partially scrapped two articles in the
2008 legislative election law, effectively allowing former convicts jailed for
serious crimes to contest the legislative elections.
In its ruling, reminiscent of the court's bold move to reinstate the right of
ex-communists to contest official posts in 2004, the panel of judges deemed the
restriction of ex-convicts' political rights imposed in Articles 12 and 50 of
the election law was discriminatory and unfair, and therefore violated the
According to the ruling, former convicts can run for office five years after
they finish serving their sentences. The ruling also requires the former
convicts not to conceal their criminal track records.
The court, however, exempted former convicts jailed for the same crime
several times, or those sentenced for treason or serious crimes that endangered
The controversy over problematic legislative candidates was sparked after the
House of Representatives endorsed the election bill in 2003 that allowed
candidates implicated in criminal cases to contest the elections.
Lawmakers argued that criminal investigations could not force candidates to
forfeit their political rights, citing the principle of presumption of
Corruption watchdogs and human rights groups have since then intensified
their campaign against candidates whose track records have been marred by graft
and gross human rights violations.