16 Januar 2023

Judicial Impartiality in Indonesia Under Attack

The independence of judicial power in Indonesia is in a precarious situation. Lately, the parliament haphazardly dismissed Constitutional Judge Aswanto, a parliament-proposed Constitutional Judge. This situation was exacerbated through the inauguration of the parliament-proposed substitute, Constitutional Judge Guntur Hamzah, by President Widodo who could have refused to authorize this illegal act. Instead, President Widodo took part in the destruction of the Constitutional Court, putting judicial independence in Indonesia in jeopardy, particularly facing the upcoming 2024 election. 

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07 Dezember 2022

‘Inherently Repugnant’?

Indonesia has recently gained the international spotlight for criminalising sex outside marriage in its new Criminal Code. Criminalisation of sex outside marriage and cohabitation constitutes a setback for the right to privacy, which covers consensual sexual activity between adults in private. Nevertheless, the bigger picture is much more nuanced.

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13 Oktober 2022

‘You are not alone’

For those who read last week’s news in constitutional justice, it would have been easy to miss the Fifth Congress of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice (WCCJ) on the theme ‘Constitutional Justice and Peace’ that was organized in Indonesia five years after the previous edition held in Lithuania. While featured on the Venice Commission’s website, the Congress was no prominent news in constitutionalist platforms, despite bringing together judges from 94 countries, many of whom are prominent academics in their respective jurisdictions, or even internationally. As this congress shows, constitutional courts can engage with academics, and are well positioned to do so, given they often contain judges with academic careers and experience. Such engagement might empower both institutions to respond to global autocratization more effectively.

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27 September 2022
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Eroding Indonesian Local Democracy

Under the administration of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), Indonesia undergoes a period of democratic decay and constitutional demise. In a recent example, there will be at least 170 interim regional heads leading their regions without any constitutional democratic legitimacy until the next General Elections in 2024, if the current malpractice by the Ministry of Home Affairs remains unchanged. Like the climate crisis, democratic backsliding is not some future grim prospect, but has already arrived and is well-underway.

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21 März 2022

Governing Through Courts?

The experience of Indonesia shows that in a country where the government pursues economic development based on a carbon-intensive economic growth model, climate litigation appears to be more challenging because it potentially shakes the foundations of the existing political and economic model; the model that has caused the climate crisis in the first place.

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26 Januar 2022

Police Action or War?

The conflict in Indonesia in 1945–1949 was not a police action against insurgents in the context of a colonial territory in which domestic law alone was applicable; it was an international armed conflict in the context of independence in which international law should have played its role. The crimes committed during the conflict from both sides were war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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25 Januar 2022

Aggression, War Crimes, and the Indonesian Revolution

The specter of the Indonesian Revolution is still haunting our understanding of Dutch imperial violence. In this blog post, I want to highlight two central issues regarding the conflict’s legal history – one involving the alleged non-application of the laws of war to the conflict which has been a mainstay argument in Dutch official narratives, and the other regarding the ways in which we delineate today our legal-moral reasoning with respect to Dutch transgression.

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15 März 2021
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One Year After the Pandemic in Indonesia: From Health Crisis to the Crisis of Constitutional Democracy

It has been a year since the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in Indonesia, in early March 2020. At that time, the Indonesian government underestimated the dangers of Covid-19, which proved fatal since the virus continued to spread gradually to all Indonesian provinces within a month. At the time of writing, Indonesia is the country with the highest number of positive cases in Southeast Asia with 1,419,455, even the Covid-19 death rate in Indonesia is among the highest in the world.

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22 September 2020
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Reinstating Corruption

Since he was elected in 2014, Indonesia’s President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has incrementally used constitutional and legal mechanisms to undermine democratic values. Last year, on 17 September 2019, the Jokowi administration and the House issued the biggest move to weaken the law enforcement institutions: an amendment to the law of the Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK). The KPK used to be the most trusted law enforcement institution in Indonesia, but the past year has demonstrated clearly that it is no longer able to exercise its authority to effectively prosecute and investigate corruption cases.

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01 September 2020

Court Packing, Indonesia Style

Once, Indonesia’s democracy was hailed as the most stable in Southeast Asia. But recently, the Jokowi government and the House of Representatives proposed a Bill that shall revise the Constitutional Court Law. A successful promulgation will affect not only the Constitutional Court, but also the future of Indonesian democracy.

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21 April 2020

State of Emergency Through the Back Door

One of the problems for Indonesia’s government when dealing with the coronavirus crisis was its non-transparent approach towards the public. Not least because of that, many people in Indonesia do not trust the government when it comes to handling the pandemic. The government’s attempt to declare the civilian emergency status which would have enabled it to control the flow of information has failed due to public opposition. A move by its police chief, however, is now trying to introduce emergency powers through the back door and in blatant disregard of a Constitutional Court ruling.

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14 April 2020

Abstract panic: On fake news, fear and freedom in Southeast Asia

In Southeast Asia, which is the world’s most dynamic laboratory of fake news legislation, the corona crisis has put previously created laws to practice and sparked additional legislative activity. The professed goal is to prevent public panic. Recent enforcement actions, however, demonstrate the complete irrelevance of any panic indicators. A falsehood’s panic potential is simply assumed. In short, an abstract panic threat is fought with very concrete measures: Arrests and criminal prosecutions. Cases from across Southeast Asia prove the trend, whereas two decisions in Singapore deserve particular attention.

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07 Dezember 2019

Truth vs. Free Speech

Southeast Asian governments have been stepping up their efforts to actively manage the truth by combatting false information. Among the main tools are correction orders and state-run “fake news centers” that monitor and “rectify” alleged falsehoods online. In addition, government discourse employs increasingly belligerent language to denounce the perceived threats. The Southeast Asian “war on fake news” thus makes the region the world’s most vibrant laboratory of anti-falsehood legislation. The protection of the truth is becoming an increasingly accepted ground for restricting free speech.

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