Category: Law

On 9 May, judges sentenced Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama to two years in prison for blasphemy, surprising many, as prosecutors had not pursued a custodial sentence. Professor Simon Butt presents a legal analysis of the decision. What arguments did the court hear and what did it accept?

The conviction for blasphemy of former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama was not a surprise, writes Professor Tim Lindsey. What was surprising was that the judges decided to follow the usual pattern in blasphemy cases when the case before them was so very unusual.

In a decision that shocked many, judges last week sentenced former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama to two years in prison for blasphemy. Dr Stewart Fenwick, who recently completed a book on the Blasphemy Law, writes that the case demonstrates how the law and the courts can be exploited for political and religious purposes.

Legal observers have welcomed President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s decision to select Saldi Isra to replace corruption suspect Patrialis Akbar on the Constitutional Court. Muhammad Tanziel Aziezi writes that the transparent and participatory selection process was crucial for improving public faith in the institution.

The fiercely contested Jakarta gubernatorial election has given rise to a cycle of charges and counter-charges between the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and its opponents. Abdil Mughis Mudhoffir and Rafiqa Qurrata Ayun write that this politicisation of criminal justice is doing serious damage to the rule of law.

In our final post for 2016, we send off this rather depressing year by taking a look back at some of the expert commentary and analysis published on Indonesia at Melbourne. Thanks again for your loyal readership and support, and we look forward to seeing you again in mid-January.

Police declared Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, a suspect for blasphemy last week, following major protests from hard-line religious groups. How has the 1965 Blasphemy Law been used in democratic Indonesia? What type of behaviour is typically deemed blasphemous? Is Ahok likely to receive a fair trial? We spoke to Dr Melissa Crouch, who has published widely on the Blasphemy Law, about these questions and more.

The Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) is in desperate need of reform. But recent attempts to revise the code have faltered, as lawmakers have become bogged down in debates over the wording of specific articles. Hal Tilemann writes that the significant progress made by the national legislature in its discussion of the new draft code is cause for cautious optimism.

Last week, Indonesia at Melbourne spoke to former Constitutional Court Chief Justice Mahfud MD during a visit to Melbourne Law School. In this Q&A, Mahfud reflects on a number of the controversial cases that came before the court during his tenure, as well as prospects for anti-corruption and bureaucratic reform under President Joko Widodo.

Over recent months, the public has again had reason to question the quality of judges serving in the Constitutional Court. Muhammad Tanziel Aziezi, from the Institute for an Independent Judiciary (LeIP), examines the selection process for Constitutional Court judges and outlines what needs to change to ensure that Indonesia has better quality judges and, consequently, better quality decisions.

For more than a year, the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) has been quietly working on plans to amend the 1945 Constitution for a fifth time, and reinstate the State Policy Guidelines (GBHN). Bivitri Susanti writes that although the term “state policy guidelines” might sound rather innocuous, the return of the GBHN could have grave political consequences.

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court will today hold a fifth hearing on a legal challenge to the Criminal Code that seeks to criminalise same-sex intercourse between consenting adults. PhD candidate Daniel Peterson writes that the Court’s approach when it upheld the Blasphemy Law in 2009 suggests that the outlook for Indonesia’s LGBT community is bleak.