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Tuesday, 23 July, 2002, 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK
Indonesia defends 'worst' legal system
Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri
Criticism of President Megawati caused anger
Indonesia's justice minister has lashed out at a United Nations investigator who branded the country's legal system as among the worst he had seen.


I have met many UN rapporteurs but I haven't met someone who makes a political attack on the president

Justice Minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra

United Nations special rapporteur Param Cumaraswamy said earlier that President Megawati Sukarnoputri's government lacked the political will to root out graft and implement legal reforms critical to luring investors back to Indonesia.

But Yusril Ihza Mahendra said Mr Cumaraswamy had exceeded his authority during a fact-finding mission to Indonesia, where the legal system has been criticised over issues ranging from lack of transparency to unpredictability.

Mr Mahendra met Mr Cumaraswamy, a former commercial lawyer from Malaysia, for three hours to discuss his report.

'Political attack'

Mr Mahendra said: "I told him I'm not happy with [the remarks].

"I have met many UN rapporteurs but I haven't met someone who makes a political attack on the president."


There are issues which we agreed and some issues where there was no agreement

UN rapporteur Param Cumaraswamy
Mr Cumaraswamy, who among other things is looking into judicial graft in Indonesia and the independence of the judiciary, said he had a good debate with Mr Mahendra.

"All I can say is that we had an open discussion on the concerns which I've already expressed," he said.

"The minister expressed his views on this matter and there are issues which we agreed and some issues where there was no agreement."

Fresh blows

Mr Cumaraswamy arrived a week ago on a 10-day mission.

UN rapporteur Param Cumaraswamy
UN rapporteur Param Cumaraswamy said he was surprised by what he found
He will report his findings to the UN Human Rights Commissioner next April.

On Saturday, he said: "I didn't realise the situation would be as bad as I have seen, particularly the structure of the system."

Indonesia's legal system was dealt a fresh blow last month by a controversial bankruptcy ruling against a local unit of Canadian insurer Manulife Financial Corporation.

Manulife alleged bribery influenced the ruling by the Jakarta Commercial Court on 13 June.

Mr Mahendra's office is investigating the allegations and is expected to announce the results this month.

See also:

26 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
14 Mar 02 | Business
08 Mar 02 | Country profiles
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