25 May 2008

The Indonesian Supreme Court

The spat between the Indonesian Supreme Court and the State Audit Board headed up by Dr. Anwar Nasution has been an up and down ding dong battle with the Supreme Court seemingly coming out on top for now. The problem revolves around how the Supreme Court is to report the revenue it generates from court fees. This revenue is categorized as non-tax State revenue and in theory does not have to be reported in the same manner as tax revenue. However, it seems unconscionable that this revenue is not to be reported or accounted for at all!

The reality is that the Supreme Court is balking at an audit because it knows that it cannot account for all of the revenue collected. For most statements to the effect that all of the money has been legitimately spent on administrative matters like case management and photocopying rings a little hollow if this has not been properly receipted. If other tax payers are held to account and required to document their claims, then it is reasonable that State institutions be held to the same standard.

Indonesian Corruption Watch (I can link you to their site but it has been hacked by the Free Kosovar Movement and after more than a month the site still has not been repaired) is reporting that the Supreme Court has collected somewhere in the vicinity of IDR 31 billion and to suggest all this money has been utilized only for photocopying and filing purposes and some court administration procedures beggars belief. The Supreme Court should and must be able to do better than that. It is worth noting that the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice (photo above) are on record as to having agreed to be audited once the government passes legislation to that effect. This agreement is one that goes forward and therefore meanings any indiscrepancies or past abuses will be immune from the audit process.

In an era of legal reform both in the laws themselves and the institutions involved, the Supreme Court's approach is not one that rings true of this spirit of honesty, transparency, and equality of justice. For this reason alone it is no wonder that people remain skeptical of the Court's commitment to true reform!

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