The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) regrets the decision of the Constitutional Court which allows election participants to campaign in schools and campuses without the attributes and permission of the school. This is considered to have the potential to perpetuate and expand the potential for violations of children’s constitutional rights during the 2024 simultaneous election and local election campaigns.
KPAI Commissioner Sylvana Apituley emphasized that schools should be kept as a public space that is neutral from electoral political activities that are full of personal and group interests, and free from violence, especially symbolic and verbal violence.
The public, especially the actors and participants in the 2024 general election and local elections, he added, must be educated that the content of political campaigns is not for consumption by school children; not even for students aged 17 who already have the right to vote. Instead what is needed is political education, citizenship and human rights (HAM). According to him, campaigns are clearly not the ideal political education capital for school students, including first-time voters.
“The existence of this Constitutional Court decision makes KPAI aware how not all parties are aware of and prioritize the constitutional rights of children which are often hidden behind the consciousness and dominant interests of adults,” said Sylvana to VOA, Tuesday (22/8).
Schools are also considered to be prone to committing election crime violations when contested to become campaign targets, especially schools with a sizable number of students in the novice voter category.
The power relations between election and regional election participants and the school, especially incumbent regional heads who will run again in the regional elections, are a weak point in the potential for election criminal violations, which at the same time increase the potential for manipulation, exploitation and abuse of children, he added.
Another danger to watch out for when campaigning at schools is the potential threat of violence involving a crowd of supporters. If this happens, the state will fail to protect children from abuse in politics, as stipulated in the Child Protection Act, he said. The state can even be called “allowing” or not carrying out its responsibility to protect children from the dangers of violence during the 2024 Election/Pilkada campaign period.
KPAI has intensified coordination with the KPU, and provided input on the revision of the General Election Commission Regulation (PKPU) regarding campaigns, to ensure optimal child protection and fulfillment of children’s rights in these regulations. The KPAI in recent months has pushed for more detailed, clear and comprehensive arrangements regarding campaigns in schools, and ensures the establishment of clear and firm sanctions for violators. A guide to supervising elections/pilkada based on children’s rights will also be released soon so that it can be used by the wider community.
Not Conducive Educational Environment
Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture Muhadjir Effendy advised election participants not to campaign at schools or campuses because they feared it would create an unconducive educational environment.
According to him, there are still many other locations that can be chosen by presidential candidates, vice presidential candidates, and legislative candidates for campaigning.
“If that has the potential to cause friction, make educational institutions unconducive as a result of being used for campaigns, my suggestion is not to do it. There are too many places for campaigns, why should you look for an educational institution,” he said.
KPU Election Implementation Technical Division Coordinator Idham Holik said his institution would immediately revise KPU Regulation Number 15 of 2023 concerning Election Campaigns.
“Of course the KPU will adjust the KPU’s technical regulations. As we know, the Constitutional Court’s decision is final and binding. So later the KPU will make improvements to the regulations,” said Idham.
In that regulation, he added, the KPU is still adapting campaign provisions in article 280 of Law Number 7 of 2017 concerning elections which prohibits campaigning in government and educational facilities without conditions.
According to him, in carrying out the revision, the KPU will involve the Election Supervisory Body (Bawaslu) and ask for public input.
The Constitutional Court in its decision on August 15 completely prohibited the use of places of worship for campaign activities for election participants because it has the potential to trigger emotions and controversy, as well as undermine religious values. However, this institution allows election participants to campaign in government facilities and educational institutions as long as they do not use campaign attributes and obtain permission from the person in charge of the location. (fw/em)