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Jakarta Post

Judicial graft dents faith in rule of law

  • Margareth S. Aritonang and Ina Parlina

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, June 1, 2013   /  11:52 am

Fifteen years into the reform era, the public still have little faith in the rule of law in the country, according to a recent study.

The study, conducted by the Indonesian Legal Roundtable (ILR), found that on a scale of one to 10 the country only scored 4.5 when it came to law enforcement.

The biggest problem the country faces is judicial corruption. The study found the judiciary was perceived to be the most corrupt institution, leading to the perception that the rule of law is not being upheld.

Forty nine percent of the 1,220 respondents involved in the study, conducted in December last year, were convinced that Indonesian judges were involved in collusive practices as well as bribery.

Furthermore, 40 percent of the respondents did not trust judges'€™ rulings as they believed that judges were influenced by politicians, government officials and public figures. They were also convinced that collusive and corrupt practices marred the process of selecting judges.

'€œThis is the portrait of law enforcement in our country. The very low law-enforcement score and growing distrust in the judiciary has shown us that the authorities have failed to uphold the law here,'€ ILR executive director Todung Mulya Lubis said during the launch of the study, Indeks Persepsi Negara Hukum Indonesia 2012 (Indonesian Law Enforcement Perception Index 2012), in Jakarta on Friday.

The study examined the independence of judicial authorities, the process of lawmaking, the recognition and protection of human rights, and access to justice.

While the country continues to witness instances of intolerance and human rights abuse, the study found that the majority of respondents believed that the government guaranteed freedom of expression, of religion, and from torture. The score for human rights protection was 5.74, well above the score for access to lawmaking, which was 3.13.

Todung felt that such a perception was likely a legacy of the New Order regime when open discussion about ethnicity and religion was restricted.

'€œThis is why most Indonesians still perceive the country to be a tolerant place for religious minorities, when it is actually not,'€ he said.

Human rights watchdogs have recorded a number of cases of human rights violations against religious minorities in which the authorities have been involved.

The government, for instance, has failed to enforce a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that allowed the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Yasmin congregation to worship in their church in Bogor, West Java. Until now, members of the congregation are still barred from worshiping in their church by local government officials and hardliners.

The ILR study confirmed the findings of previous surveys. The Indonesian Survey Circle'€™s (LSI) survey, released last month, showed that only 29 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the government'€™s performance in enforcing the law. The survey found that the dissatisfaction stemmed from rampant corruption involving government officials, unresolved social conflicts and the high level of impunity enjoyed by members of the National Police and the Military.

The survey concluded that the state had committed human rights violations against the people by allowing rampant corruption to prevail and by condoning the actions of vigilante groups. For the survey, the LSI interviewed 1,200 respondents as well as engaging with them in focus group discussions between April 1 and April 4.

Todung said he hoped the study would encourage authorities to gradually improve law enforcement in the country.

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