People's tribunal needed to address fraud in 2024 elections say experts

Source – April 15, 2024
Asvi Warman Adam speaking at Amnesty International office in Jakarta – August 29, 2023 (Kompas)

Diamanty Meiliana, Jakarta – The issue of a people's tribunal or pengadilan rakyat has come up again following the 2024 elections that were allegedly marred by election fraud.

Historian Asvi Warman Adam believes that there is a possibility of a people's tribunal being replicated, as was once held in 2015 in the context of humanitarian crimes committed in 1965, to prosecute fraud in the elections even though the scale of the court would not have to on an international level.

"Because there is a desire to do that in Indonesia after the 2024 elections", said Adam during an online discussion titled A People's Tribunal for Electoral Justice, Is it Needed? on Monday April 15.

Adam believes that although a people's tribunal will not result in legal obligations for the government, its ruling however would provide a warning bell and a moral and political obligation.

Moreover, under the concept of a people's tribunal, the panel of judges are people with integrity from various different countries and are unpaid.

As in the people's tribunal for humanitarian crimes in 1965, the ruling by the tribunal that was held in the Hague, the Netherlands, was considered quite hard and carried moral sanctions for the state having committed violence or gross human rights violations.

"That is a picture of the international human rights tribunal in the Hague that I can give. This is to give a picture of whether we in Indonesia can now hold a national court on the topic", Adam explained.

Electoral law expert Titi Anggraini meanwhile emphasised that up until these elections, holding elections has made a significant contribution to the quality of the Indonesia's democracy index through various global rankings.

"In that context a people tribunal forum on the issue of election fraud becomes relevant because it safeguards this so that it then remains within its corridor", Anggraini said in the same discussion.

She gave as an example the people's tribunal in Malaysia which was driven by a consortium of 84 non-government organisations, academics and public figures.

The composition of the judges was also varied, one of them was even an Indonesian electoral leader and the chairperson of the first Indonesian General Elections Commission (KPU), Ramlan Surbakti.

"Professor Ramlan was chosen at that time, it was in 2014, because Indonesia was considered a leading country in terms of democracy", said Anggraini.

She sees that Indonesia has sufficient capital to form a people's tribunal especially after the many universities and academics who have spoken out on the issue of election fraud.

"As an election activist, in my opinion a people's tribunal could fill the empty space from the 2019 to 2024 elections, namely an evaluation. In an election cycle, an evaluation is a necessity – a review of election practices after the elections have taken place – to find points of improvement or organisational reforms and to draft a better election strategy", she explained.

Failure to prove fraud

The chairperson of the defense team for the winning presidential ticket of Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's son Gibran Rakabuming Raka, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, has said that the losing candidates Anies Baswedan-Muhaimin Iskandar and Ganjar Pranowo-Mahfud MD have failed to prove fraud in the 2024 elections – nepotism through to the misuse of social assistance (bansos) – at the 2024 presidential election dispute hearings at the Constitutional Court.

According to Mahendra, the witnesses and experts presented by the Baswedan and Pranowo camps also failed to prove election fraud, as they have charged.

The Baswedan and Pranowo camps are the plaintiffs in the case and are asking that the elections be rerun and the Prabowo-Gibran ticket be declared illegitimate.

"In the main case, we concluded that the plaintiffs have not succeeded in proving what they are arguing in their arguments that are the basis for the challenge, namely the occurrence of various violations, fraud and abuse of power both by means of nepotism, misuse of bansos and the mobilisation of acting regional heads (structured, systematic and massive)", Mahendra said when sought for confirmation by on Monday April 4.

"The witnesses and experts presented at the hearings failed to prove there were violations or fraud", he added.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Dugaan Kecurangan Pemilu 2024, Sejarawan dan Ahli Pemilu Singgung Perlunya 'People Tribunal'".]