In Conversation with First Chief Justice of Indonesia's Constitutional Court

14 Aug 2015
Professor Jimly Asshiddiqie and Emeritus Professor Suri Ratnapala

The Centre of Public International and Comparative Law and the Law School were honoured to host ‘a conversation’ between Emeritus Professor Suri Ratnapala of the TC Beirne School of Law and Professor Jimly Asshiddiqie, the first Chief Justice of the Indonesia Constitutional Court. A wide range of topics were canvassed including the challenges in founding a new court; the Court’s contribution to the rule of law, democracy and human rights in Indonesia; the position of Syariah law and the Pancasila;  the jurisdiction of autonomous regions; and the role for judicial activism. Discussed too were some of the Constitutional Court’s most significant and also controversial cases, including the Death Penalty and the 20% Education Budget case.

Professor Asshiddiqie also took questions from the audience, who appreciated his considered and frank responses.  The speakers were thanked by PhD student Faiz Wijaya who was an Associate at the Constitutional Court of Indonesia before undertaking doctoral studies at the Law School, on the topic ‘The Role of the Constitutional Court in Securing Constitutional Government in Indonesia.

Professor Jimly Asshiddiqie is an esteemed scholar, government advisor, and the founding Chief Justice of Indonesia’s Constitutional Court. He was instrumental in the creation of the Constitutional Court of Indonesia in 2003. As a Professor of Law at the University of Indonesia and the Head of Legal Reform for the Indonesian government, and also an Expert Advisor to the Assembly [MPR], Professor Asshiddiqie’s vision and expertise was vital in the realisation and form of Indonesia’s Constitutional Court. From 2003, he served the Court’s first Chief Justice and was re-elected Chief Justice for a second term between 2006 and 2009.

Professor Asshiddiqie studied law at the University of Indonesia and at Leiden University. He has published more than 40 books and hundreds of academic papers on constitutionalism, democracy and the courts.

Currently, he is the Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Indonesia. He also serves his government as a member of the Indonesian Presidential Advisory Council, chair of the Honorary Council of the Electoral Management Bodies and a member of the Advisory Council to the National Commission of Human Rights. He has twice been decorated for his contributions to Indonesian law reform and state administration.

Emertius Professor Suri Ratnapala is a one of Australia’s most respected Constitutional Law Scholars. Professor Ratnapala was Professor of Public Law at The University of Queensland until his retirement in 2014. He was the founder and first Director of the Centre for Public International and Comparative Law and is a current Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. In 2003 he was awarded a Centenary of Australian Federation Medal by the Governor- General of Australia for his contribution to Australian society through research in law and economics. In 2007 Professor Ratnapala was made an Alan McGregor Fellow of the Centre for Independent Studies. Professor Ratnapala’s academic writings and books have received international acclaim including his book Welfare State or Constitutional State? which was awarded the Sir Anthony Fisher International Memorial Prize by a jury chaired by Nobel Laureate James Buchanan. His main academic interests are in constitutional law and theory, legal philosophy, and constitutional political economy.