Thu, 24 Jan 2008
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Corruption among judges in Indonesia remains a key problem and the whole judicial system still needs a root-and-branch overhaul, the head of the
country's young constitutional court said on Wednesday.

Legal uncertainty and perceived graft in the judicial system are among some of the most frequent complaints of foreign investors operating in Indonesia.

"This is quite a big problem, a big problem," Jimly Asshiddiqie, president of the constitutional court, said, when asked about corruption among judges.

The court he heads was established in 2003 to help adjudicate in crucial areas concerning interpretation of the law in relation to the constitution in areas ranging from human rights to election disputes.

"From where do we start? In my opinion we have to start from the lawyers, the advocates and the judges," he told a meeting of foreign correspondents, referring to judicial reform.

He highlighted the problem of low pay among judges as a potential problem and also the whole bureaucracy surrounding the judiciary.

The low pay and a lack of adequate retirement contingency of many officials in Indonesia is regarded as a key factor helping maintain a system of corruption that became entrenched under the long rule of former autocratic President Suharto who
stepped down amid mass protests in 1998.

"We have to look at the whole system, including the administrative system, including for example about the finance system."

He suggested that there may be a case for judges not to start so young or serve as long.

"Bureaucratic reform is something very crucial, not only in the judiciary but also in the executive and ... in the legislature," he added.

The constitutional court has made a number of important rulings in its five years including striking down a controversial Dutch-era law that made insulting the leaders of Indonesia a crime and was widely used in the past against activists and students.

Peter Fanning, a Jakarta-based lawyer and chairman of the international chamber of commerce, told Reuters that from the perspective of foreign investors there was a considerable way to go in Indonesia on judicial reform.

"It remains a critical issue," he said. (*)



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