A portrait of judicial corruption in Indonesia

Crawford School of Public Policy
Drawing of an Indonesian judge holding scales weighed down by cash

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 25 October 2023




Professor Simon Butt (The University of Sydney)


Alex Gotts

8:30-10:00am WIB // 12:30-2:00pm AEDT

Join in-person: McDonald Room, Menzies Library, 2 McDonald Place, ANU

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About the seminar

Indonesia’s judicial system has long been described as dysfunctional. Many of its problems developed out of decades of authoritarian rule, which began in the last few years of the reign of Indonesia’s first president, Soekarno. By the time President Soeharto’s regime fell in 1998, the judiciary had virtually collapsed. Judicial dependence on government, inefficiency and corruption were commonly seen as the main indicators of poor performance, resulting in very low levels of public trust in the courts. To address these problems, reformists focused on improving judicial independence. Yet while independence is a basic prerequisite for adequate judicial performance, much depends on how this independence is exercised. Judicial Dysfunction in Indonesia demonstrates that Indonesian courts have tended to act without accountability and offers detailed analysis of highly controversial decisions by Indonesian courts, many of which have been of major political significance, both domestically and internationally. It sets out in concrete terms, for the first time, how bribes are negotiated and paid to judges and demonstrates that judges have issued poor decisions and engaged in corruption and other misconduct, largely without fear of retribution. Further, it explores unsafe convictions and public pressure as a threat to judicial independence.

About the speaker

Simon Butt is Professor of Indonesian Law and Director (Indonesia) of the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law, University of Sydney, where he teaches and researches Indonesian law. He has previously held an Australian Research Council Australian Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship. He has written widely on aspects of Indonesian law, including Indonesian Law (Oxford University Press, 2018, co-authored with Tim Lindsey), The Constitutional Court and Democracy (Brill, 2015), Corruption and Law in Indonesia (Routledge, 2012), and The Constitution of Indonesia: a Contextual Analysis (Hart, 2012, co-authored with Tim Lindsey). His forthcoming book, Judicial Dysfunction in Indonesia, will be published by Melbourne University Press in December 2023.

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