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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Corruption and the rule of law - Indonesia's continuing burden

Upholding the rule of law remains a serious challenge in Indonesia shows the Rule of Law Index Report 2014 by the World Justice Project. It says that corruption is still rife in the judiciary and law enforcement professions. Civil justice is weak. The Jakarta Globe newspaper reported last week that progress was slow in the 15 years of Indonesia's democratic era. 32 years of Suharto’s dictatorship created deep problems and each government since has failed to improve this.

The WJP measures several things:

- The effective enforcement index is the effectiveness and speed of enforcement of civil law decisions and judgments. Indonesia scored 0.29, below Serbia. Singapore scored 0.85.

- Indonesia came 80 out of 99 nations for corruption in the legal system. Specific problems included, bribery of judges, prosecutors, or by lawyers. The Constitutional Court’s former chief justice, Akil Mochtar, is currently on trial on charges of bribery and money laundering.

- For the judiciary corruption index, Indonesia scored 0.34, lower than Ethiopia, which scored 0.35. Singapore scored 0.84. This measures whether judges and judicial officials solicit and take bribes. It also measures whether the judiciary and judicial decisions are free of improper influence from government, private interests, and criminal organizations.

Much is blamed on a culture of such behavior by Indonesians in their dealings with the law: they want to win more than they want justice. Money is spent wastefully in legal proceedings and they treat legal procedures like a gold mine.

For corruption in the police or military, Indonesia scored 0.37, alongside Afghanistan, which received the same rating. This measures whether police officers and criminal investigators refrain from soliciting and accepting bribes to perform basic police services such as investigating crimes. It also measures whether government officials in the police and the military are free from improper influence by private interests or criminal organizations. Poor remuneration is a cause too.

Lawyers are blamed too. Law students’ quality is just mediocre and legal education is cheap but not prestigious according to commentators.  Serious social and economic consequences re cited as the imperative for Indonesia to fix the rule of law. It is an investment yardstick, it hinders development and harms employment, apart from the environmental and human rights impact. Ordinary people who want to change this hope the 2014 elections bring a government who will at last tackle the issue. Indonesia features lowest of all G20 nations.

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