Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Indonesia: Attorney-General Told to Step Down Following Ruling of Constitutional Court

(Sept. 24, 2010) On September 22, 2010, the Constitutional Court of Indonesia ruled that, under the existing law, the Attorney-General's term expires with the end of the term of office of the President and other Cabinet members. Speaking after delivering the Court's decision, the Chief Justice said that the ruling meant that the term of the current Attorney-General, Hendarman Supandji, had ended at the time of the October 2009 election and that he therefore no longer legally held the position. (Nivell Rayda, Camelia Pasandaran, & Heru Andriyanto, Surprise Ruling Sees Attorney General Lose Job, THE JAKARTA GLOBE (Sept. 23, 2010),

The ruling was made in response to a petition by a former Minister of Justice, whom Hendarman has charged with corruption. The petition claimed that Hendarman, who was appointed Attorney-General in 2007, did not have the authority to bring the charges as he had not been validly re-appointed after the election last year. The Court held by a majority of five to two that article 22 of Law Number 16 of 2004 on the Attorney General's Office did not clearly stipulate the end of an Attorney-General's tenure and therefore his or her term ended once the Cabinet was dismissed. The judges considered that the law should be reviewed immediately to provide greater clarity. (Id.)

Despite stating that Hendarman's term had legally ended, the Chief Justice said that any decisions made before the judgment would stand, including the decision to prosecute the former Minister. (Id.)

The State Secretary, Sudi Silalahi, responded to the situation at a press conference, saying that the ruling itself did not state anything about Hendarman's legitimacy. In terms of the Chief Justice's comments about Hendarman's dismissal, Sudi said that “[a]ny comments outside the court cannot be taken as reference but as we said, we respect the court ruling and we will use it for future reference.” (Hendarman Still Legitimate Attorney-General, Government Says, THE JAKARTA GLOBE (Sept. 23, 2010),
.) A presidential adviser for legal affairs had earlier said that he considered the current Attorney-General's position to be legal because the additional comments made by the Chief Justice were not part of the Court's ruling and therefore Hendarman's term would expire in 2014, along with that of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his Cabinet. (Rayda, et al., supra.)

Sudi indicated that the President would appoint a new Attorney-General in the near future and that Henderman would remain Attorney-General until his replacement is sworn in. (Hendarman Works Despite Controversy, THE JAKARTA POST (Sept. 23, 2010),
; Camelia Pasandaran, Government to Obey Attorney General Ruling But Insists President Decides, THE JAKARTA GLOBE (Sept. 23, 2010),
.) It was reported that Hendarman had previously indicated that he would retire as Attorney-General next month, regardless of the Court's decision. (Rayda, et al., supra.)