24 September 2008

Judicial Reform in Indonesia

A recent survey by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd (PERC) has ranked Indonesia as the worst of the 12 Asian countries surveyed. The survey by PERC suggests that the Indonesian judiciary is the weakest and perhaps most controversial of Indonesia’s institutions. This is in essence the crystallization of public opinion on the idea that law enforcement in Indonesia is the number one problem faced by the country. According to PERC some of the decisions made by the courts have been “so controversial that they have seriously hurt confidence of foreign companies”, however PERC did not provide any specific examples with regards to which cases it considered controversial or sapping of foreign confidence in the system.

PERC is a Hong Kong-based consultancy. The survey asked 1,537 corporate executives working in Asia to rate the judicial systems in the countries where they reside. The basic variables used included: the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), corruption, transparency, enforcement of laws, freedom from political interference, and the experience and educational standards of lawyers and judges were also considered.

“Year after year, our perception surveys show close correlation between how expatriates rate judicial systems and how they rate openness of a particular economy,” PERC said. “Better judicial systems are associated with better IPR protection, lower corruption and wealthier economies.” explain PERC.

Interestingly, a survey by a Hong Kong-based consultancy has found that Hong Kong rates the best with a score of 1.45 on a scale 0-10. In this survey a score of 0 is the highest possible score and 10 is the worst possible score. Hong Kong was followed by Singapore (1.92), and then Japan (3.50). Indonesia ranked last with the lowest score of 8.26. Vietnam came in slightly higher than Indonesia with a score of 8.10 and China (7.25) was almost a point better than Vietnam.

The PERC survey would seem to confirm the results obtained in Transparency International Indonesia’s (TII) survey of December 2007. The TII survey also ranked Indonesia’s judiciary as one of the most corrupt institutions of State considered in the survey. The most corrupt in the TII survey were the police. Similarly, a recent survey by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) also had the Indonesian Court system as the second most corrupt institution in the State. The only difference being that the KPK had the Office of the Public Prosecutor as the most corrupt.

Aria Suyudi, Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Policy (PSHK), said of the TII survey, that the results reflect the public’s perception of the courts. Aria went on to explain that the perception is different perhaps from the reality because most of those surveyed were not familiar with the legal and judicial reforms going on at the Supreme Court. Therefore, there was also little surprise from Aria that the PERC survey also found the Indonesian judiciary to be wanting and the worst in Asia as the results seem to be based on questions relating to perception of the system rather than the reforms taking place. Simply, those surveyed, whether they be corporate executives or investors, are just not sufficiently well-informed of the reforms taking place in the judicial system, according to Aria.

Furthermore, Aria highlighted that the perception is an old one and fails to take into account the progress made by the court system as a whole and more specifically the Supreme Court. Aria cited the example of the Supreme Court decision database. The Supreme Court decision database is an online database of Supreme Court decisions that can be accessed by the public.

Hasril Hertanto, Secretary General of Masyarakat Pemantau Peradilan Indonesia (Indonesian Judicial Watch Society / MAPPI), had a similar opinion to that of Aria, and stated that the system in Indonesia is not the worst. It must be noted that Hasril acknowledged that the system was not excellent either but just OK. For Hasril it was not so much the system that is inadequate but rather the inadequacies lie with those who are tasked with running the system. According to Hasril it is the human resources that are not sufficiently prepared and as such do not have the capacity to run the judicial system. This lack of preparedness has meant that corruption has not been completely eradicated and as such the mistrust remains as do the negative perceptions of the system.

5 comments:

Brett said...

I tend to agree with you. My guess is that a lot of Govt agencies could use some PR assistance. I am continually pleased by anti-corruption measures I encounter at a grass-roots level.

Rob Baiton said...

Brett...

There is a lot of good work going on across all levels. It is clear that there is a severe lack of communication or a severe lack of ability in getting the message out.

Maybe one day this will be worked out.

treespotter said...

except that NGOs and legal reform activists should probably start being a little more cautious about so fond in supporting whatever Bagir does...
:p

Rob Baiton said...

Tree...

They won't have to worry because Bagir is done as of 6 October 2008. To use a tennis analogy, "it is game, set, and match!"

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