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Indonesia: The Administration of Criminal Justice
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > The Criminal Justice System > The Administration of Criminal Justice


The prosecutory function rested with the attorney general, who held the position of supreme public prosecutor. The attorney general occupied a cabinet-level post separate from that of the minister of justice, both of whom reported directly to the president. In 1992 the Attorney General's Office included 27 provincial-level prosecutors' offices and 296 district prosecutors' offices.

The public prosecutor's principal functions were to examine charges of felonious conduct or misdemeanors brought by individuals or other parties, and then either to dismiss a charge or to refer it for trial to the state court having jurisdiction. The prosecutor's office was also responsible for presenting the case against the accused in court and for executing the sentence of the court.

The matter of control over the conduct of the preliminary investigation has had a history of contention between the prosecuting authorities and the police going back to the late 1940s and early 1950s. Practice under the old code of criminal procedure evidently rested on working agreements between the two services, under which the police, in principle, conducted primary investigations but deferred to the prosecutor whenever the latter asked to undertake the investigation. Under the new code of criminal procedure, a clear division was made between the investigatory function, which was given solely to the police, and the prosecution function, which remained with the prosecutor's office. The only exception was in the case of "special crimes," a category which was not further defined but which was believed to be reserved for unusually sensitive cases such as espionage and subversion, in which the prosecutor could also take a role in the investigation. Continuing tension between the prosecutor and the police was evident during debate over a new prosecution service law in 1991. The law as passed gave the attorney general the power to conduct limited investigations in cases that were determined to be incomplete. The 1991 law also established the positions of deputy attorney general and a sixth associate attorney general responsible for civil cases and administrative affairs.

The court system comprised four branches: general courts, religious courts, military courts, and administrative courts were tried in the general courts. The new criminal procedure code set forth rules for establishing in which court a case must be tried, should military and general court jurisdiction combine or overlap.

Since the late 1960s, the Suharto government, with the strong support of the legal profession, made efforts to ensure the independence of the judiciary. The Basic Law on the Judiciary Number 14 (1970) prohibited all interference in judicial matters by persons outside the judiciary, a prohibition that in principle was also contained in the elucidation of the judicial articles of the constitution. The executive branch exercised some measure of influence over judges through the control exercised by the minister of justice over the appointment, training, promotion, and transfer of judges.

The president was empowered to grant amnesty or special dispensation to convicted persons. This power was used on several occasions to declare general amnesties -- in 1980, for example, for suspected PKI members imprisoned on Buru Island. The president also could grant individual amnesty and clemency powers and was the final appeal authority for those sentenced to death. Under the new criminal procedures code, cases on which final judgment had been rendered could be opened for reconsideration should new evidence surface.

Data as of November 1992

Last Updated: November 1992

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Indonesia was first published in 1993. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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