Novel Baswedan, a senior investigator with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) suffered burns on his face from an acid attack on Tuesday morning, April 11. An unidentified person reportedly hurled acid at Novel after the investigator joined a morning prayer in mosque near his home in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta.
Novel, who is investigating an e-ID embezzlement case and has been involved in the investigation of corruption related to a driving simulator procurement project in 2011, has reportedly received several threats and has been attacked in recent years. Before Tuesday’s act of barbarism, Novel was attacked on mid-2016 while investigating the e-ID case. He was riding a motorcycle heading to the headquarters of the KPK when suddenly he was hit by a car. He was thrown from his bike but only suffered minor injuries. He was also previously accused of participating in an assault that led to the death of a convict in Bengkulu (2015).
“What happened to Novel Baswedan should be a momentum for the KPK to immediately improve the system of the protection to its personnel. All levels in KPK should equipped by the high protection system. This system only happened if the government commits to fight against corruption, seriously”, said Dadang Trisasongko, Secretary General of TI-Indonesia.
In 2015, another KPK investigator named Afif Julian Miftah received a bomb threat and his car was splashed with acid. At the time, he was handling several big cases, including money laundering allegations involving former Democratic Party politician Muhammad Nazaruddin.
Bigger Cases, Bigger Intimidations
The KPK, an agency which formed in 2002 to fight graft in one of the world’s most corrupt countries, has its share of occupational hazards. From witchcraft to death threats, law enforcement officials assigned to the frontline of the war against corruption have seen it all.
The statistical data above is the recapitulation of corruption cases handled by the KPK. As of December 31, 2016, the Commission handles: probing of 96 cases, 99 cases of investigation, prosecution of 76 cases, inkracht 70 cases, and the execution of 81 cases. The total corruption cases from 2004 to 2016 was: probing/ inquiry: 848 cases, 567 cases of investigation, prosecution of 465 cases, 390 cases inkracht, and the execution of 414 cases.
Physical attacks against KPK officials are uncommon and the commission has recorded no fatalities or casualties since its inception. This probably explains the lack of security for KPK leaders and investigators, who are only equipped with a handgun for everyday protection while out of the office.
What often undermines the commission is the threat of prosecution by the National Police for petty crimes. This occurred in early 2015 and the kerkuffle forced then KPK chairman, Abraham Samad and his Deputy, Bambang Widjojanto to resign.
The attack against Novel, who has already suffered countless death threats and acts of terror, has forced the KPK to review its security measures to protect its staff amid an attempt to ramp up the pursuit of major corruption cases involving many of the country’s most influential politicians and business people. The KPK is currently handling corruption surrounding the e-ID project, which believe to be the biggest case ever handled by the anti-graft body in terms of state losses and the parties involved. About Rp 5.9 trillion (US$ 440 million) is believed to have been swindled from the country by influential politicians.
Not Only in Indonesia
Indonesia ranks 90 out of 176 countries on Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2016 and survey shows that’s almost 60 percent of citizens say that corruption is a serious problem in their daily lives. The attacks against KPK leaders, investigators and personnel were the form of terror and intimidation on the fight against corruption. It was not only meant to attack the anti-graft body but also the anti-corruption movement in Indonesia.
The attacks, terror and intimidation were not only happened in Indonesia. Some of countries around the world are facing the common problems. Only a day after Novel’s, April 12, two officials of Anti-Corruption Justice Center in Afghanistan were murdered. The assassination of two martyrs has gravely shocked the whole society in fighting corruption in Afghanistan.
In 2013, Transparency International Maldives was alarmed by the intimidation and public allegations. A senior member of the Cabinet publicly threatened to close Transparency Maldives down. There was also in South Korea, 2008. As the 13th-biggest economy in the world, South Korea remains a black spot: pervasive corruption. Their former President Lee Myung-Bak closed down the Korea Independent Commission Against Corruption (KICAC).
The desk study of TI-Indonesia also found there is a strong correlation among the intimidation and terror happened to anti-graft body with country’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) rank and score. In a decade, the terror and intimidation happened in countries with low CPI scores. Based on the latest 2016 CPI, South Korea (53), Indonesia (37), Maldives (36) and Afghanistan (15). Another countries which threatened by terror and intimidation were: Malaysia (49), South Africa (45), Egypt (34), Nigeria (28) and Kenya (26).
Poor performance in the country is closely related to the government which is not accountable, lack of transparency, lack of supervision, insecurity, less protection and loss of spaces for civil society. The conditions lead to marginalization and criminalization of the anti-corruption movement within countries.
Civil Society Stand with KPK and the Fight Against Corruption
Activists denounced efforts to weaken and intimidate the anti-graft body following a recent acid attack against KPK’s investigator. A number of activists from civil society organizations gathered in front of the KPK on Thursday, April 11. This was done as a from of support and solidarity to the KPK and its efforts to fight against corruption in the country.
The history of corruption eradication proves big changes come from individuals with the courage to innovate the corrupt system and impunity fueled situation. The absence of such protection and security system for the KPK, could ruin the government’s credibility and the people’s trust.
In the past few years, the anti-corruption network, in national and international, done varied efforts and pressures to free journalist, activists, and reformers across the globe from terror, intimidation, imprisonment, violence, and political assault.
The terror and intimidation happened have drawn the TI-Indonesia and civil society’s of Indonesia to call for:
- The establishment of a fact-finding team (Tim Pencari Fakta) that works and optimally and commits to investigate the terror and intimidation of Novel Baswedan.
- President to provide the high security system to the KPK’s commissioners and its personnel.
- The strengthening of protection towards whistleblowers and anti-corruption defenders by the government.
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