Adat Law in Indonesia

2198 Words Jun 10th, 2013 9 Pages
ADAT LAW IN INDONESIA

INTRODUCTION

The Indonesian legal system is complex because it is based on a civil law system, intermixed with customary law, Islamic law and the Roman Dutch law1. Indonesia is a country with a very rich and diverse cultural history. The diversity of and between cultures is enhanced because of the physical nature of the Republic – an archipelago with more than 13,000 islands and 300 of different ethnic and sub-ethnic groups, each with their own laws and customs. Prior to the Dutch colonization in the late 16th century, indigenous kingdoms prevailed and a system of customary law, called Adat law (Hukum Adat or “Adatrecht” in Dutch) was applied2. Later, the Dutch colonization during the next 350 years until 1945
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Given that Adat law generally forms part of an oral tradition handed down from generation to generation, there is often no objective reference point to seek information on the law apart from the Adat leaders who have knowledge of the subject. Generally selection criteria of Adat leaders are that candidates must be male, aged 50 or above, be married according to Adat, have knowledge of Adat, and be wise, honest, neutral and unemotional. However, government has reportedly become involved in the selection of some Adat leaders, resulting in conflicts and a lack of respect from the community because they are not involved in the selection process.

Most of the defenders of the Adat law believe that it represents the indigenous wisdom of the relevant society since it has existed for a long time. This is completely misleading since the persistent existence of such custom does not necessarily indicate that the custom is good for the welfare of the society. One of the reasons is because the standards are not clear as the diversity of tribes in Indonesia will complicate the standards even more.

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Ibid 5 Interview with Togi L.Tobing S.H, M.H on …. (date) during visit to Pontianak, Kalimantan

Another reason is there is no guarantee that policing transgressions of Adat law is justified

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