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Indonesia: Judges Named as Soft on Corruption

(Aug. 28, 2009) The Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), a non-governmental organization established in 1998, has issued a report criticizing 221 judges from 57 district courts, three high courts, and the Supreme Court. The organization says these judges have freed persons accused of corruption, clearing them of all charges. (Indonesia Corruption Watch, KARMAYOG, & ICW website, (both last visited Aug. 21, 2009).) The charges were made in a report sent to Indonesia's Judicial Commission on August 19, 2009. The ICW is concerned because of what it deems a high percentage of cases being dismissed, and it questions whether the judges are truly committed to ending corruption. (Irawaty Wardany, ICW Reports Dubious Judges to Judicial Commission, THE JAKARTA POST, Aug. 20, 2009, available at

While allowing that it is proper for judges in some cases to free defendants, ICW researcher Febri Diansyah said that “the question is whether such verdicts have a strong basis.” He described the work done by the organization, which researched cases from 2005 through July 2009 and found that of 1,643 persons charged with corruption, 812 were freed and the rest were given light sentences, including in some cases probation. (JAKARTA POST, id.) An ICW coordinator, Illian Deta Arta Sari, said that suspicions were raised because certain judges often freed those accused of corruption and mentioned the further question of favoritism playing in a role in assigning specific judges to cases. ICW is calling for an investigation, and if the accusations of ethical violations are upheld, the organization is calling for the judges involved to be fired. Another spokesperson from the ICW said the group expects “to see the Judicial Commission place itself in a dominant position to fight against corruption in the judiciary.” (Id.)