This is a slightly modified piece that first appeared over at http://en.hukumonline.com, which is hukumonline's English language site.
One of the busiest periods at the 2004 – 2009 House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat / DPR), at least in a legislation sense, has been the several weeks in the lead up to the transition to the new parliament of 2009 – 2014. The previous DPR has succeeded in passing a raft of legislation on all manner of substantive matters, including the Second Amendment Bill to Law No. 2 of 1986 on General Courts.
The amendment bill is important as it takes into account the 2006 decision of the Constitutional Court that invalidated parts of the law as it related to the Judicial Commission.
The primary purpose of the amendments is to clarify and codify matters with respect to:
1. Internal supervision of judges by the Supreme Court and external supervision of judges by the Judicial Commission;
2. Strengthen the requirements with respect to the appointment of judges to courts to ensure that the process is transparent and accountable, among others, and to ensure that all judges have successfully completed appropriate judicial training;
3. Regulate special courts and the ad hoc judges;
4. Regulate mechanisms associated with the appointment and dismissal of judges;
5. The prosperity / wealth of judges;
6. Regulate transparency issues related to decisions and time frames to hand-down decisions;
7. Rules to ensure transparency in case fees, and the mechanisms utilized in the management of case fees;
8. Legal aid; and
9. Judicial Honor Board, and the obligation incumbent upon judges to abide by and uphold a judicial code of ethics and a judicial code of conduct.
The bill generally amends current articles to reflect the points noted above. However, the bill also includes a number of new articles to provide specific provisions. For example, between articles 13 and 14 a further six articles have been inserted, namely 13A – 13F.
Article 13A deals with issues regarding supervision by the Supreme Court and the Judicial Commission.
Article 13B deals with matters relating to the integrity and personal characteristics of judges, as well as judges honesty, fairness, and professionalism.
Furthermore, Article 13D deals with matters specifically related to the functions of the Judicial Commission as they relate to external supervision.
Finally, Article 13F permits the Judicial Commission to review / analyze decisions handed down by judges with respect to making recommendations relating to the mutation (rotation) of judges through specific courts.
Judges have certain rights with respect to remuneration including allowances. These are laid out in Article 25, but include a basic salary and positional allowances, as well as health insurance, housing, and transport.
Unfortunately, Article 14 states that to be appointed as a judge a person must be between the ages of 25 and 40. This would seemingly marginalize a vast amount of experienced legal professionals who might want to move to the bench after a long stint in private or public practice of the law.
With respect to case fees and administration the bill inserts Article 52A which states that courts must provide access to the community in order that the community can obtain information about case fees and decisions. Further, courts must provide copies of the decision no later than 14 days from the date the decision is handed down. Failure by the courts on either of these two points will see the Chief Judge of the particular court sanctioned.
The provisions are clearly intended to improve the administration of justice in Indonesia by demanding higher standards in the recruitment process, higher standards and more pro-active supervision of the administration of justice, and increasing and improving the access that the community is entitled to have to the justice system as a whole as part of a citizens constitutionally guaranteed rights to have access to a function, fair, and non-discriminative court system.
As always, enforcement is the key.