Death Penalty in Indonesia (2)

By Mohamad Mova Al ‘Afghani (Bremen) and and Pan Mohamad Faiz (Delhi)

Capital punishment debate resurfaces when a group of death row inmates lodged a judicial review to the Constitutional Court against death penalty articles under the 1997 Narcotics Law, used by the criminal court to sentence them. Almost 130 countries in the world had abolished capital punishment while the rest including Indonesia still preserves it.

The petitioners argue that death penalty is a denial on the right of life as guaranteed by Articles 28A and 28I of 1945 Constitution. According to international human rights instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the right to life is a “non-derogable right”. Indonesia is a party to the ICCPR but has not acceded to its protocols. Petitioner’s lawyers argued that as the verses on the Constitution almost verbatimly mimic the ICCPR’s wordings, they have to be interpreted pararell to the ICCPR.

ICCPR does not prohibit death penalty but its protocols do. As Indonesia is not a party to any ICCPR’s protocol the practice of death penalty will not violate any international obligation to the ICCPR as long as the treatment of the inmates in the death row and the execution of the convict is made in accordance with international standards.

It is then left to the problem of constitutional interpretation. Article 28I (1) of the constitution guarantees stated that the right to life cannot be limited under any circumstances, but Article 28J (2) stated that “In exercising his/her rights and freedoms, every person shall have the duty to accept the restrictions established by law … based upon the consideration of morality, religious values, security and public order in democratic society”. The debate goes on as to whether the application of Article 28I (1) – due to the phrase “cannot be limited under any circumstances” – is non-derogable, including by Article 28J (2).

The convict’s attorneys think that the rights under Article 28I (1) belongs to the cluster of rights which are non-derogable, including by Article 28J (2). The government on the other hand, is of the opinion that Article 28J (2) may derogate Article 28I (1). Toward this polemic, there are a few methods of interpretation that can be applied.

First, by using the literal approach, it would appear that prohibition of death penalty is stated nowhere on the Constitution. The wordings of “cannot be limited under any circumstances” under Article 28 I (1) cannot therefore be interpreted so as to mean prohibiting death penalty. A comparison towards Germany and Vietnam’s constitutions would reveal that the prohibition of death penalty is supported with a written, literal expression on the articles of the Constitution. As Indonesia’s Constitution has no such provision, death penalty is so far, in line with the Constitution.

Second, by using the teleological approach, it can be seen from the preamble that the purpose of the constitution is to first “protect the whole people of Indonesia and the entire homeland of Indonesia”. Indonesia has 3.2 million drug users with the number of death around 15.000 users per year or an average of 41 deaths per day due to the overdose or drug-related AIDS infection. The state has the constitutional obligation to prevent these deaths and to prevent the occurrence of lost generation. Thus, the protection of the people by the state is paramount and would constitute a higher obligation in comparison to other duties.

Third, using the systematical method of interpretation, it would be clear that Article 28 J is placed under the same chapter with Article 28 I, which is the amended human rights chapter. It is then conclusive that Article 28 J was made “in relation and with due regard to” Article 28 I. We do not consider it appropriate to interpret that the restriction towards the implementation of human rights under Article 28 J refers to clusters of rights other than Article 28 I. The restriction under Article 28 J appears to cover the whole set of the constitution.

Moreover, under the social contract construction, perpetrators are deemed to have waived their right to life which is protected under the law by conducting actions which results in the loss of life of other. Thus, by “knowingly” killing others and having aware that their action entails a capital punishment, they have given “implied consent” to be punished with death penalty.

There are also a number of non-legal arguments which supports death penalty, especially when it comes to “most serious crime”. There is no common understanding among UN Countries on this matter. Nonetheless, we can refer to the concluding observation of U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/79/Add. 25, 1993 which stated that the “imposition of [death penalty] … for crimes than do not result in loss of life, as being contrary to the Covenant.” The Advisory Council of Jurist of Asia Pacific Forum considers this crime as those which involve the wanton destruction of human life. In their book, International Criminal Law and Human Rights (2003), Claire de Than and Edwin Shorts defines the scope of “most serious crimes” encompass modern threats such as drug trafficking or terrorism.

Narcotics are the kind of crime which may results in the loss of life of others. The debate however continues as narcotic accomplices does not “pull the trigger” themselves. From a consequalist point of view, it may not be relevant that a certain crime is conducted “wilfully and knowingly” which means that there is a direct causal relation between the intention to kill and the consequences resulted by such intention or only “knowingly” which suggest that the intention to kill is not as manifest as the previous condition, as long as it results in the loss of life of others. Thus, killing by producing and organising narcotics is by no means a lesser evil compared to killing a person directly, as the perpetrators are fully aware that their action will result in the loss of life of others.

In this grave condition, States are fully responsible to protect its citizen. State has to exercise “action” by introducing a special measure of punishment. Otherwise the states might be guilty for failing to protect the lives of its thousand citizens because of its “omission” and a “failure to act” (Sustain and Vermule, 2005).

Comparative study has shown that most of the retentionist countries decided to abolish death penalty after a long crucial public, judiciary and legislative debate. Due to de jure reality of death penalty, what may be done is restricting the offence for which the death penalty is allowed under the law. Quoting the analysis from The Jurist of Asia Pacific Forum, ultimate abolition is possible only when the basic standard in the criminal justice system is already achieved.


Mohamad Mova Al Afghani ( is the founder of Center for Law Information.

Pan Mohamad Faiz ( is the founder of Institute for Indonesian Law and Governance Development.


Introduction of Indonesian Constitutional Law



Selama lebih dari 50 tahun sejak Indonesia merdeka, atau tepatnya dari tahun 1945 sampai tahun 1998 ketika terjadinya reformasi nasional (53 tahun sejak kemerdekaan), bidang ilmu hukum tata negara atau constitutional law agak kurang mendapat pasaran di kalangan mahasiswa di Indonesia. Penyebabnya ialah bahwa selama kurun waktu tersebut, orientasi bidang studi hukum tata negara ini sangat dekat dengan politik, sehingga siapa saja yang berminat menggelutinya sebagai bidang kajian yang rasional, kritis, dan objektif, dihadapkan pada risiko politik dari pihak penguasa yang cenderung sangat otoritarian. Selama masa pemerintahan Presiden Soekarno dan Presiden Soeharto, siklus kekuasaan mengalami stagnasi, sehingga dinamika demokrasi tidak dapat tumbuh dengan sewajarnya untuk memungkinkan berkembangnya pandangan-pandangan kritis mengenai persoalan-persoalan politik ketatanegaraan.
Risiko kedua adalah bahwa bidang kajian hukum tata negara ini dianggap sebagai lahan yang kering, tidak begitu jelas lapangan kerja yang dapat dimasuki. Itulah sebabnya setelah kurikulum fakultas hukum menyediakan program studi hukum ekonomi, rata-rata mahasiswa fakultas hukum di seluruh Indonesia cenderung memilih program studi hukum ekonomi atau hukum perdata umum daripada program studi hukum tata negara. Di samping kedua risiko tersebut, para dosen dan guru-guru di bidang ini di tingkat sekolah menengah juga kurang berhasil membangun daya tarik keilmuan yang tersendiri, baik karena penguasaan mereka terhadap masalah yang memang kurang atau karena ketidakmampuan ilmu hukum tata negara sendiri untuk meyakinkan mengenai daya tarik ilmiah dan kebergunaan praktisnya, maka studi hukum tata negara di mana-mana menjadi kurang diminati.
Namun kini, setelah terjadinya gelombang reformasi di ranah konstitusi, paradigma hukum tata negara berangsur-angsur telah bergeser dari orientasi politis menjadi teknis. Terlebih lagi dengan munculnya lembaga (tinggi) negara baru di bidang pengadilan ketatanegaraan yaitu Mahkamah Konstitusi. Berbagai kajian mengenai hukum dan konstitusi ibarat cendawan di musin hujan, tumbuh dan menjamur hampir di seluruh pelosok negeri ini. Oleh karena itu, sebuah pedoman utuh mengenai aspek-aspek hukum tata negara, kembali menjadi sangat relevan untuk dijadikan pedoman bagi setiap warga negara Indonesia, khususnya kalangan akademisi dan terpelajar. Apalagi, perkembangan konstitusi di seluruh penjuru dunia sudah sangat pesat, seperti munculnya fenomena bentuk negara baru European Union ataupun semakin runtuhnya teori klasik trias politica dari Montesquie.
Sebuah buku karya Prof. Dr. Jimly Asshiddiqie, S.H. sebagai hasil pengembaraan intelektual dari belantara pemikiran-pemikiran mondial yang bersifat univer5sal dipadukan dengan pemikiran-pemikiran lokal dengan sifat partikularistis mencoba memberikan jawaban dan pemahaman mengenai berbagai persoalan di atas. Gagasan monumental dan penyempurnaan pemikiran seputar Hukum Tata Negara dan Konstitusi di abad millenium ketiga ini, dengan cermat dan teliti telah dituangkan secara sistematis dalam bukunya yang berjudul “Pengantar Ilmu Hukum Tata Negara”.
Semoga buku yang akan segera terbit ini bersama dengan pembacanya, dapat membantu meretas jalan untuk mewujudkan sistem ketatanegaraan Indonesia yang semakin kokoh, yang pada waktunya nanti juga akan menjadikannya sebagai negara hukum yang adil dan makmur.
Akhirnya, sebagai Editor, Saya ucapkan Viel Spaβ beim Lesen!

Sorry, I don’t have a permission to upload the contains of this Book.

Source : The Publisher “Konstitusi Press” 2006.

Into An Ideal Representative Democracy




The 1945 Constitution amendments has created a figure and system of the state, one of it is about the composition and the position of MPR,DPR,DPD and DPRD. The old MPR consist of DPR member, regional representation, and typical representation, now only consist of two elements which are DPR and DPD. Since the first time told by academics people, this “new” MPR was hoped to be a two room parliaments in existence of DPD that represented the regional and was tasked as an equal partner with DPR.

The basic thinking was: wide, diverse and populated Indonesia with needs of this representation system so the political representation can run better. Sadly this suggestion was not welcomed fully by MPR at the time when the 2001 amendment was done. Suggestion of DPD existence was accepted but an equal position same as DPR was not given. Authorities and the positions was far away from hope, DPD was hoped to represent the society aspirations in regional to a national fulfillments of obligation, thus the reality showed that the constitution was only given a little power for DPD so there was only a small room space for DPD in conducting their regional interests. DPD has a limited authorities and only practicing about regionalist objectives. In the constitution was assured that DPD can give out the act, ”criticizing act”, and “can” observe the act actualization, but in record that the authority was limited to the rule only based on regional autonomy (Article 22D of The 1945 Constitution).

More than that in the Act of composition and position of DPD that had been weakened since it was created by the absence of the regulation of DPD about authority actualization in details. The rules inside the composition and position UU was as if copying the rule of DPD in the constitution. This was caused by an existence of an another rule in the constitution (Article 20) that strongly said that the authority in creating UU was in DPR hands, not DPR together with DPD. Seemed like as if that they can only be DPR counselor only on things about regional, without having the voice to obligate. Interaction between DPD and DPR in legislation procedure, observation, and budget was apposed not from the council procedure but an acceptation from the members of DPR. This kind of bicameral type with a weak upper house was known in few countries. But for the record that the decision to assured that authority from those two councils in the bicameral parliament was born from each countries history context. But things that needs to be underlined for Indonesia itself that the greatest demand that endorsed the bicameral birth was to accommodated the regional interest structurally.

Source : In occasion of The Outstanding Student Election – Faculty of Law University of Indonesia

Hukum Acara Mahkamah Konstitusi


Pada saat ini masih sedikit penulis yang membuat artikel mengenai Mahkamah Konstitusi RI dikaitkan dengan proses beracaranya. Tulisan singkat ini merupakan hasil studi sekaligus pengamatan langsung dari penulis atas perkembangan dari Lembaga Negara tersebut. hal yang perlu dipahami adalah Mahkamah onstitusi mempunyai hukum acara yang jauh berbeda dengan hukum acara yang diterapkan di peradilan biasa. Semoga artikel ini dapat memberikan tambahan wawasan di bidang Hukum bagi para pembaca. Sekaligus penulis memohon masukan dan saran yang membangun dari pembaca sekalian, sebab artikel ini barulah buah karya awal dimana tentunya tidak luput dari kekurangan.