Law Enforcement, The Mediator in Democracy

Indonesia’s democracy is still on shaky ground. This is the title of a commentary written by Christen Broecker who is a member of the nonprofit organization Human Rights Watch. As its title suggests, the piece highlights some facts that occurred in Indonesia that were contrary to democratic values, ​​which according to the President Soesilo Bambang Yudhono, “Democracy in Indonesia is irreversible and a daily fact of life.”

President SBY can say anything he wants about democracy but we can still see the reality. In her opinion, Broecker mentions the story of two activists who must face a lawsuit from the Attorney General after they revealed a discrepancy in the budget of the Indonesian prosecutor agency. The other one is the case of Prita Mulyasari who was confined for three weeks behind bars after expressing her opinion on Omni International Hospital services via electronic mail.

In the context of Indonesia’s fledgling democracy, the opinion Broecker wrote three years ago is still relevant to current conditions. We cannot simply deny the practice of democracy in Indonesia is still far from ideal. Take a look at some elections in regional areas where the voters can be negotiable with their money, the parliament has not been fully worked as a representative of the people, black campaigning is still an option for Indonesian politicians to gain attention, the parliament even seems to be vocal – not for the sake of building the country but to attack their political opponents, the action of a group of people who tend to violate pluralism, and many others on the black list that position democracy in Indonesia still on the childish level.

Democracy that justifies freedom of opinion and expression became an admission to the protestors to express their thoughts on a variety of media. This is where conflicts often occur. When the second party who happens to be the object of critics sees the thoughts conveyed discredits or harms himself or his institution, the legal filings might be a wise solution without committing to violence or threats.

We all know that the conception of law and the democratic state cannot be separated. Because on the one side, the concept of democracy will provide the foundation for the implementation of legitimate power and open access for the formation of legislation that will be used in the administration of government and power.While on the other side, the conception of state law would provide assurance that the organization of power in the country is limited by applicable law, which was formed through a democratic mechanism.

It can be said that the rule of law and democracy are two things that need each other and are required to hold a power that is “good.” Therefore, the essence of a democratic system is the participation of the people.  But democracy without the rule of law can lose its shape, direction, and meaning. Thus, the state of law and democracy must always go hand-in-hand.

Sovereignty of the people is the strength for democracy, but it has to be in line with the law. So, like it or not, the law is an ideal mediator in the life of the shaky democracy in Indonesia. Having said that, legal action is actually not a bad thing nor does it threaten the democratic order. This exactly leads the people to be more responsible in the implementation of their democracy. And, isn’t law enforcement also part of democracy?

About Rina Hutajulu 17 Articles
Rina Hutajulu is an independent journalist for the Dekker Centre focusing on political studies of civil society movements and environmental issues in Indonesia. She writes for various on line media and print media as well. Rina is based in Jakarta.

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