S'pore extradition treaty and fight against corruptionAnd from the Straits Times:
Opinion News - Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Adnan Topan Husodo, Jakarta
Indonesia finally signed extradition and defense treaties with Singapore on April 27. Indonesia had previously signed similar extradition treaties with Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia and Thailand. China and Canada are the next targets.
The new treaty reaffirms the public conviction that corruption is a transnational crime. It is undeniable that embezzlers have so far been free to carry the fruits of corruption out of Indonesia. They have even been able to launder that stolen money through various investments and businesses, which are -- to a certain extent -- very profitable for these people's host countries.
On one side, this kind of activity is very damaging to the country where the corruption originally takes place (locus delicti). Stolen state wealth can no longer be allocated for the social and economic needs of the population.
On the other side, that same money helps develop the economy of the country where corruption fugitives end up. As long as there is no international cooperation to combat corruption, imbalances and inequalities will remain between countries. This is what has happened between Singapore and Indonesia.
The extradition treaty between Indonesia and Singapore as a result needs to be looked at with the collective awareness that corruption can not only be eradicated in the country where the crimes take place. This is in line with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC, 2003), which emphasizes the importance of international cooperation in combating corruption. No less than 138 countries have ratified the convention.
Unfortunately, Singapore is not one of them.
However, Singapore's goodwill in signing the extradition treaty deserves our appreciation. The signing also shows Singapore's successful diplomacy and a more open attitude to solving problems related to transnational crime.
There are at least three important points of substance in the extradition treaty.
First is the list of economic crimes agreed to by Indonesia and Singapore.
Second is the 15-year retroactive period, which enables the government to hunt embezzlers from the Soeharto era, along with their assets.
The last is the agreement to return the assets to Indonesia. Because this is a reciprocal treaty, Singapore can also in theory get the same from Indonesia.
For the Indonesian government, there are some important things to take into account. The extradition treaty with Singapore will not automatically facilitate the legal processes to bring the corrupt to justice.
There are examples where Indonesia's extradition treaties have failed.
There is the example of banker Hendra Rahardja, an Indonesian tried in absentia for corruption while living in Australia. Hendra remained in Australia until his death because the Australian courts would not allow the banker to be deported to Indonesia out of mistrust of the integrity of
Each country has its own different legal mechanisms. This factor can influence the process by which extradition treaties are realized.
Indonesia needs to anticipate from the outset all possible technical and legal barriers to extradition. This is important because many Indonesians expect much from the government to bring these fugitives back to Indonesia.
This extradition treaty is a strategic bilateral mechanism to effectively combat corruption. There are a lot of mega-corruption cases out there, both from the past and the present day. In particular its worth remembering the Bank of Indonesia emergency liquidity funds scandal (BLBI), which inflicted huge financial losses on the government.
Most of the BLBI suspects have fled Indonesia. One of their safe havens is Singapore. According to Indonesian Corruption Watch's (ICW) records, 43 of them are now residing abroad, 13 in Singapore. Some of them have become permanent residents.
Although we have already signed the extradition treaty, it would be impossible to depend on Singapore's political will alone to eradicate corruption. The government needs to be much more serious about bringing the crooks to justice. There is widespread public suspicion that criminals have been easily able to run away from Indonesia with the help of government officials.
This can happen because of poor coordination among state agencies, as well as bribery.
We hope the extradition treaty with Singapore will accelerate the process of legal reform in Indonesia. If we fail to do that, other countries will conclude that Indonesia is not serious about eradicating major corruption. If that is the truth, why should they help us?
The writer is member of the working committee of Indonesia Corruption Watch. He can be reached at email@example.com.
ST May 9, 2007
Jakarta seeks extradition of 15 over 'stolen funds'
New A-G lays out his priorities; getting those believed to be 'hiding millions in S'pore' among them
By INDONESIA CORRESPONDENT, Salim Osman
JAKARTA - INDONESIA will seek the extradition of 15 businessmen believed to be hiding millions of dollars in stolen state funds in Singapore, its newly-appointed Attorney-General said yesterday.
The extradition issue was on Mr Hendarman Supanji's 'to do' list when he laid out his priorities before reporters yesterday after being named Attorney-General in a Cabinet reshuffle the day before.
The top priority, according to a report in the Suara Pembaruan evening daily, was to set his own house in order by 'cleaning up' the prosecutors' office.
'One of my first tasks...is to take firm action against unscrupulous prosecutors who abuse their positions and break the law of the land,' said Mr Supanji.
He was referring to strings of cases involving prosecutors accused of demanding bribes and extorting money from suspects.
As for the extradition cases, he did not release details of the 15 on his wanted list.
But local media have identified them as ethnic Chinese Indonesians, many of whom owned commercial banks when the banking system collapsed nearly a decade ago during the Asian financial crisis.
An extradition treaty was signed with Singapore last month, but it has not yet become law. The document covers 31 crimes - including terrorism financing, bribery and related acts of corruption - and applies retroactively to crimes that took place up to 15 years ago.
Indonesia has also signed similar pacts with Malaysia, the Philippines and Hong Kong, and is negotiating similar treaties with China and Canada.
Mr Supanji became the top prosecutor in a Cabinet shake-up under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono aimed partially at countering allegations of being weak on corruption.
He made it clear yesterday that he would come down hard on other areas where dodgy practices are rife. His office would soon summon a number of businessmen who had not settled their loans from the state through Bank Indonesia's credit facilities, or BLBI, which caused trillions of rupiah in state losses.
The Koran Tempo daily website also quoted him as saying that he would target misappropriation of funds at government agencies and aim to stop 'leaks' from state budgets.
The new Attorney-General also pledged that his office would press ahead with a probe into the use of a Justice Ministry bank account for the release of millions of dollars to former president Suharto's son, Tommy, while he was in prison for murder.