Constitution, Government & Legislation | Courts & Judgments | Human Rights | Legal Profession | Law Schools
map courtesy CIA World Factbook; click for enlargement Constitution, Government & Legislation

The People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) is Indonesia's supreme governing institution. It is empowered to amend the Constitution and issue decrees, functions that it undertook in the first of its newly instituted "Annual Sessions" held in August 2000. The President and the appointed Cabinet are accountable to the MPR. To oversee the President, the MPR has the Constitutional right to convene an "extraordinary session" to remove the President from office. In July 2001, the MPR exercised this power and removed President Abdurrahman Wahid from office in connection with charges of corruption and misrule. Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri replaced Wahid, as stipulated by law, and the MPR elected United Development Party Chairman Hamzah Haz to replace Megawati as Vice President.

The MPR is also Indonesia's legislative branch. The legislature had no independence during the Suharto era, but has moved forcefully to establish its independence from the executive. During its November 2001 session, the MPR amended the 1945 Constitution to provide, among other changes, for direct presidential and vice-presidential elections, a bicameral legislature with a regional representative's chamber, and a constitutional court with the power of judicial review of legislation. The amendments, if fully implemented, would increase elected officials' accountability to constituents by allowing people to elect the President and Vice President.

The 695-member MPR consists of the 500 Members of the DPR, 130 regional representatives, who are elected by provincial legislatures, and 65 appointed representatives from functional and societal groups. The 500-member Parliament (DPR) consists of 462 members were chosen in the 1999 elections as well as 38 unelected members of the military. Legislative elections are held every five years.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Courts & Judgments

The Indonesian judicial system is independent from the executive and legislative arms of the government. The system is composed of five types of lower courts, and a Supreme Court. The lower courts include: General Courts, Military Courts, Administrative Courts and Religious Courts, all of which are all two-tiered systems featuring High Courts which preside over the lower court of the same type, as well as the Commercial Court, which specializes in hearing insolvency cases with the possibility of appeal to a special bankruptcy tribunal of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court is the highest judicial tribunal and the final court of appeal in Indonesia. Existing beside the legislative and the executive branches, the Supreme Court enjoys an independent status in the socio-political fabric. It was not until 1968 that the restructuring of the Supreme Court was completed to meet the conditions set out in the 1945 Constitution, i.e. to be free from government intervention in the exercise of justice.

Source: Government of Indonesia

Human Rights

The Indonesian Government's human rights record remained poor in 2001, and it continued to commit serious abuses. Security forces were responsible for numerous instances of, at times indiscriminate, shooting of civilians, torture, rape, beatings and other abuse, and arbitrary detention in Aceh, West Timor, Papua (formerly known as Irian Jaya), and elsewhere in the country. TNI personnel often responded with indiscriminate violence after physical attacks on soldiers. They also continued to conduct "sweeps" that led to killing of civilians and property destruction. The Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KONTRAS) reported that during the period between June 2000 and June 2001, police killed 740 persons. Despite the May 2000 agreement between the Government and the leaders of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) to limit armed hostilities, military, police, and GAM forces committed numerous extrajudicial killings. Security forces in Papua assaulted, tortured, and killed persons during search operations for members of militant groups. The security forces inconsistently enforced a no-tolerance policy against flying the Papuan flag, tearing down and destroying flags and flag poles, and killing eight persons, and beating others who tried to raise or protect the flag prior to the signing into law of the Papua Special Autonomy Law, which permits the flying of the flag as a cultural symbol. There continued to be credible reports of the disappearance of civilians, KONTRAS reported 55 cases of forced disappearance between January 1 and September. The killers of two Achenese NGO activists, Jafar Siddiq Hamzah and Tengku Hashiruddin Daud, who had been abducted in 2000 and later found dead with indication of torture, had not been identified by year's end. Papuan independence leader Theys Eluay was kidnaped and killed in November. Crossborder raids into East Timor by East Timorese prointegration militias resident in West Timor, armed and largely supported by the army, diminished during the year as the Indonesian military withdrew its backing. Three Timorese who admitted killing three U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) workers in West Timor were brought to trial in Indonesia and charged with manslaughter instead of murder.

Security forces tortured and otherwise abused persons. Rapes and sexual exploitation by security forces continued to be a problem. Prison conditions are harsh. Security forces employed arbitrary arrest and detention without trial in Aceh. Despite initial steps toward reform, the judiciary remains subordinate to the executive, is corrupt, and does not always ensure due process. Security forces infringe on citizens' privacy rights. Security forces continued to intimidate and assault journalists. The Government places some controls on freedom of assembly; however, it allowed most demonstrations to proceed without hindrance except in Aceh and Papua. Security forces also brutally dispersed demonstrations on several occasions. The Government places some controls on freedom of association. There are some restrictions on certain types of religious activity and on unrecognized religions. The Government continues to restrict freedom of movement to a limited extent. Thousands of Acehnese residents fled their villages during conflicts between the security forces and separatists. Intercommunal conflict forced the relocation of hundreds of thousands of persons in Maluku and North Maluku in 2000 and during the year. In West Timor, the Government's failure to disarm and disband the East Timorese prointegration militias impeded the repatriation or resettlement of thousands of East Timorese IDP's during the first half of the year. During the latter part of the year, obstacles to repatriation were uncertainty about conditions in East Timor and unresolved problems with government pensions.

Domestic human rights organizations continued to play a significant role in advocating for improvements in human rights; however, at times security force members killed, abused, and detained human rights activists and humanitarian workers, most frequently in areas with active insurgencies. On March 29, security forces reportedly killed three human rights workers and left their bodies in a village in South Aceh. In June in Jakarta, police detained and threatened Non Governmental Organization (NGO) members before releasing them. Violence and discrimination against women are widespread problems. Child abuse and child prostitution are problems, and female genital mutilation (FGM) persists in some areas. Discrimination against persons with disabilities, indigenous persons, and religious and ethnic minorities also are widespread problems. Interreligious violence, particularly in the Moluccas, has claimed over 6,000 lives since the onset of hostilities in January 1999, and thousands of Christians in Maluku have been forced to convert to Islam. Discrimination against ethnic minorities persisted. Attacks against houses of worship continued, and the lack of an effective government response to punish perpetrators and prevent further attacks led to allegations of official complicity in some of the incidents.

The Government continued to allow new trade unions to form and operate; however, enforcement of labor standards remains inconsistent and weak in some areas. Millions of children work, often under poor conditions. Forced and bonded child labor remains a problem, although the Government continued to take steps during the year to remove children from fishing platforms, on which bonded child labor most commonly occurs. Trafficking of persons into and from the country for the purpose of prostitution and sometimes for forced labor is a problem.

The Government was ineffective in deterring social, interethnic, and interreligious violence that accounted for the majority of deaths by violence during the year. Enforcement of the law against criminal violence deteriorated, resulting in religious groups purporting to uphold public morality, and mobs dispensing "street justice" operating with impunity.

Source: U.S. Department of State

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