APSN Banner

Indonesia set to ratify changes to controversial top court

Reuters - May 15, 2024

Jakarta – Indonesia is set to pass revisions to constitutional court rules, ushering changes that legal experts said could threaten the independence of the judiciary in the world's third-largest democracy.

The proposed changes will reduce the tenure of justices from 15 to 10 years, and require those who have served more than five years to get approval from appointing institutions to continue their tenure.

Constitutional court judges are appointed by the president, Parliament and the Supreme Court.

The revision also includes changes to the composition of the ethics council that oversees the court, and proposes the addition of the president, and members of Parliament and the Supreme Court.

The amendments have sparked strong criticism from some legal experts.

"These changes will ruin the independence of the constitutional court," said Ms Bivitri Susanti, from Indonesia's Jentera School of Law.

"The intention is really to put the judiciary, the constitutional court, under the control of the House of Representatives and the president."

The parliament and the government have agreed to the Bill and will ratify it at the plenary session, said Dr Adies Kadir, deputy head of a parliamentary commission responsible for drafting it, in a statement posted on the parliament's website.

Mr Sarifuddin Sudding, another member of the same commission, said the Bill had been agreed upon, but a date for it to be ratified had not been set. The next plenary session is scheduled for May 20.

If passed, the revised law would apply to three judges who provided dissenting opinions in several high-profile cases, including challenges to the presidential election held in February 2024.

The amendment comes amid criticism of a democratic backslide in Indonesia, during which the court has been in the spotlight, particularly after a controversial ruling in October 2023 that enabled the son of President Joko Widodo to contest the vote.

At the time, the chief justice of that court was the president's brother-in-law, who was later reprimanded by the court's ethics council for allowing intervention from an unspecified "external party".

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/indonesia-set-to-ratify-changes-to-controversial-top-cour