Justice System in Indonesia, Complex System You Should Know


Having a big influence from the Roman-Dutch model and customary law, the justice system in Indonesia hasn’t changed too much. Besides, two other aspects have an obvious impact on the system; criminal codes and Islamic-family codes. Even some laws seem to turn back to the colonial era where Dutch colonialized Indonesia for almost 350 years.

Regarding Indonesia’s development, the improvement of the democratic system has drawn a great impact since the ouster of Suharto. Unfortunately, the different result makes the judicial system requires some effort to work better. Mostly, the distraction to Indonesia’s court system comes from inefficiency and poorly trained staff, corruption, and financial constrain.

Justice System in Indonesia
Justice System in Indonesia

Indonesia has used trias politica to make everything works. Unlike the other, the judicial branch is greatly independent. It is coequal with both legislative and executive branches. At the apex of this judicial system, there are Constitutional Court and Supreme Court. Each court has a different court system below.

How Does the Justice System in Indonesia Work?

The Indonesian judicial system has worked differently from its original system before. Now, it is no longer under the executive branch that has officially been political and administrative control. The Supreme Court as the highest courts in this system has 51 judges who are divided into 8 different chambers, while the Constitutional Court has 9 judges.

Originally, the member of both Constitutional and Supreme Court judges are appointed by the president with a parliament agreement. Each chosen judges has mandatory retirement at 70. Indonesian legal system itself has a complex system with 3 sources of law; adat or customary law, Islamic law (sharia), and Dutch colonial law.

Justice System in Indonesia
Justice System in Indonesia

As one of 3 main systems of law since the 19th century, Dutch colonial law has played an important role in Indonesia’s institutional of criminal justice and criminal jurisprudence. It is the only one that is codified uniformly to all the national territory. It is administrated towards a hierarchy that led to the Supreme Court. However, it is considered as the most corrupt branches in the government system by most Indonesians.

Criminal Justice System in Indonesia

In reality, numerous factors limit dealing with a criminal case. We can’t deny that criminal justice in a more urban area, like in Java, has more trained legal personnel and better infrastructure.

The procedures sometimes deal with either political or ordinary crime. Moreover, Indonesian prefers to not include the formal legal system in every conflict they have. The revenge or retribution is still being the most common way to settle with all the disputes, mostly from big towns.

For minor cases in a rural area, criminal cases mostly are settled by the village chiefs. Complains often can’t be filled with the right authorities. Whether in villages or cities, more cases are settled out of the court system to save time or money and avoid too much public attention. The wealth or status from someone is often considered as an important factor to impact the final outcomes.

After the fall of New Order and Suharto, the corruption case has grouped in special crimes under the jurisdiction of the anti-corruption courts along with the special Commission to Investigate Public Official’s Wealth. The transition to being a more democratic country has changed a lot of the justice system in Indonesia from time to time.

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