The Tension Between Combating Terrorism and Protecting the Right to a Fair Trial in Indonesia


A consistent criticism of the Indonesian criminal justice system indicates its dysfunctional judicial system plagued by systemic corruption and government interference. Given the high profiles of terrorism offences and their strict punishment, it is essential to maintain consistency in sentencing decisions for these crimes. However, there is a significant lack of evidence-based studies of sentencing in Indonesian courts, and none specifically related to terrorism offences. The aim of this study is to analyse the application of the right to a fair trial in sentencing terrorism offences in Indonesia through the interpretive lens of Southern criminology. This study takes a multi-dimensional approach of historical, legal, and empirical analyses to provide an in-depth understanding of factors that affect sentencing decisions in terrorism cases. First, the historical analysis explains that prosecutions for terrorism today include radical Islamists, minority extremists and separatist groups willing to resort to violence against the state and society to achieve their goals. Second, the legal analysis highlights how the existing sentencing regimes provide limited guidance for judges when determining the appropriate punishment for terrorist offenders, frequently leading to prison sentences exceeding 10 years. Third, qualitative analysis further explains that judges use their discretion to avoid the minimum mandatory sentence in specific circumstances, such as in the case of juvenile offenders. A Southern criminology approach helps explain terrorism sentencing in the broader historical, legal, and socio-political contexts. Ultimately, the way laws are written and how judges determine the sentences of terrorism offences result from the persistent impact of colonialism, authoritarianism, and the 'war on terror' discourse. The case study reveals violations of international human rights rules and standards. Terrorism sentencing practices also exemplify a troubling trend where national security trumps the fundamental procedural rights of terrorist offenders.

Keywords: Sentencing Decisions, Southern Criminology, Terrorism.


Amira Paripurna, The Use of Intelligence in Indonesian Counter-Terrorism Policing (PhD Thesis, University of Washington, 2017).

Antonio Cassese, International Criminal Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

Antonio Gramsci, The Southern Question (Canada: Guernica Editions, 2005).

Adriany Badrah, “The Long Road to Peace in Poso Indonesia at Melbourne”, Indonesia at Melbourne (11 April 2016), online: .

Alice Martini, “Rethinking Terrorism and Countering terrorism from a Critical Perspective CTS and Normativity” (2020) 13:1 Critical Studies on Terrorism.

Antje Missbach, “People Smuggling in Indonesia: Complexities, (Mis) conceptions and Their Consequences for Sentencing” (2016) 17:2 Australian Journal of Asian Law.

Antonio Cassese, “The Multifaceted Criminal Notion Of Terrorism In International Law” (2006) 4:5 Journal of International Criminal Justice.

Antonio Gramsci, “Selections from Politics Writings (1921-1926)” in Some Aspects of the Southern Question - (International Publishers, 1978).

B L Smith & K R Damphouse, “Terrorism, Politics, and Punishment: A Test of Structural-Contextual Theory And The ‘Liberation Hypothesis’” (1998) 36:1 Criminology.

Bart Schuurman, “Topics In Terrorism Research: Reviewing Trends And Gaps, 2007-2016” (2019) 12:3 Critical Studies on Terrorism.

Ben Golder & George Williams, “What Is `Terrorism’? Problems Of Legal Definition” (2004) 27:2 University of New South Wales Law Journal.

Ben Saul, ed, “Terrorism prosecutions and the right to a fair trial” in Research Handbook on International Law and Terrorism (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2020).

Brent Smith & Kelly Damphousse, “Punishing Political Offenders: The Effect of Political Motive on Federal Sentencing Decisions” (1996) 34:3 Criminology 289.

Bilveer Singh, “Revising Indonesia’s Anti-Terrorism Laws” RSIS Commentary (S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, 2016).

C Cunneen, “‘Postcolonial Perspectives for Criminology’” in Mary Bosworth & Carolyn Hoyle, eds, What is Criminology? (Oxford Scholarship Online, 2011) 251.

Cassia C Spohn, “The Effects Of The Offender’s Race, Ethnicity, And Sex On Federal Sentencing Outcomes In The Guidelines Era” (2013) 76:1 Law and Contemporary Problems.

———, “Thirty Years of Sentencing Reform: The Quest for a Racially Neutral Sentencing Process” (2000) 3 Criminal Justice.

Cassia C Spohn & David Holleran, “The Imprisonment Penalty Paid by Young, Unemployed Black and Hispanic Male Offenders” (2000) 38:1 Criminology.

Cassia C Spohn & J Cederblom, “Race and disparities in sentencing: A test of the liberation hypothesis” (1991) 8:3 Justice Quarterly.

Catherine Elliott, French Criminal Law (Routledge, 2001).

Darrell Steffensmeier & Stephen Demuth, “‘Ethnicity and judges’ sentencing decisions: Hispanic-Black-White comparisons’” (2001) 39:1 Criminology 145.

Edward W Said & Christopher Hitchens, Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question (Verso, 2001).

Farish Ahmad Noor, Terrorising The Truth: The Shaping Of Contemporary Images Of Islam And Muslims In Media, Politics, And Culture: A Report On The International Workshop (Just World Trust, 1997).

Fachrizal Afandi, “The Indonesian Prosecution Service at Work: The Justice System Postman” in Melissa Crouch, ed, The Politics of Court Reform: Judicial Change and Legal Culture in Indonesia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).

Gabrielle Appleby & John Williams, “The Anti-Terror Creep: Law and Order, the States and the High Court of Australia” in Andrew Lynch, Nicola McGarrity, & George Williams, eds, Counter-Terrorism and Beyond: The Culture of Law and Justice After 9/11 (Routledge, 2010).

Genevieve Lennon, “Precautionary Tales: Suspicionless Counter-Terrorism Stop And Search” (2015) 15:1 Criminology & Criminal Justice.

George Radics, “Seeking Commonalities from Across the South” in Pablo Leandro Ciocchini & George Baylon Radics, eds, Criminal Legalities in the Global South: Cultural Dynamics, Political Tensions, and Institutional Practices (Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY: Routledge, 2020).

George Williams, “A Decade Of Australian Anti-Terror Laws” (2011) 35:3 Melbourne University Law Review.
Harry Siswoyo & Eka Permadi, “Berapa Jumlah Napi Teroris di Indonesia (How Many Terrorist Prisoners in Indonesia)”, Viva (20 July 2017), online: .

International Institute for Strategis Studies, “Indonesian Security and Countering Terrorism in Southeast Asia” (2003) 103:1 Strategic Survey 219–236.

Ian R Taylor, P Walton, & J Young, Critical Criminology (London: Routledge, 2012).

———, The New Criminology: For a Social Theory of Deviance (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1973).

Jeroen Ten Voorde, “Prohibiting Remote Harms: On Endangerment, Citizenship and Control” (2014) 10 Utrecht Law Review.

Joanna Elizabeth Amirault et al, “Criminalizing Terrorism In Canada: Investigating The Sentencing Outcomes of Terrorist Offenders From 1963 To 2010” (2016) 106 The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology.

Joanna Elizabeth Amirault & Martin Bouchard, “A Group-Based Recidivist Sentencing Premium? The Role of Context and Cohort Effects in The Sentencing Of Terrorist Offenders" (2015) 43:4 International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice.

———, “Timing Is Everything: The Role of Contextual and Terrorism-Specific Factors in The Sentencing Outcomes of Terrorist Offenders” (2017) 14:3 European Journal of Criminology.

Jude McCulloch & Sharon Pickering, “Pre-Crime and Counter-Terrorism” (2009) 49:5 The British Journal of Criminology.

Jayson S Lamchek, Human Rights-Compliant Counter-terrorism: Myth-making and Reality in the Philippines and Indonesia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018).

Joanna Elizabeth Amirault, Criminalizing Terrorism: The Impact of Context and Cohort Effects on the Sentencing Outcomes of Terrorist Offenders (PhD Thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2014) [unpublished].

John Henry Merryman, The Civil Law Tradition: An Introduction to the Legal Systems of Europe and Latin America, 3rd ed (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007).

John Thayer Sidel, Riots, Pogroms, Jihad: Religious Violence In Indonesia (Cornell University Press, 2007).

———, The Islamist Threat In Southeast Asia: A Reassessment, Policy Studies 37 (ISEAS & East-West Center Washington, 2007).

Kathrin Rucktäschel & Christoph Schuck, “Tracing Indonesia’s Counter-terrorism Measures Since the 2002 Bali Bombings”, The Diplomat (4 September 2019), online: .

Kerry Carrington, “Criminology, Southern Theory and Cognitive Justice” in Russell Hogg, John Scott, & Maximo Emiliano Sozzo, eds, The Palgrave Handbook of Criminology and the Global South (USA: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) 3.

Kerry Carrington, Russell Hogg, & Máximo Sozzo, “Southern Criminology” (2016) 56:1 British Journal of Criminology.

Leon Moosavi, “A Friendly Critique of ‘Asian Criminology’ and ‘Southern Criminology” (2019) 59:2 The British Journal of Criminology.

———, “Decolonising Criminology: Syed Hussein Alatas on Crimes of the Powerful” (2019) 27:1 Critical Criminology 27 2.

Leonard A Jason & David S Glenwick, eds, “Integrating Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches: An Example of Mixed Methods Research” in Methodological Approaches to Community-Based Research (Washington DC: American Psychological Association, 2015).

Marjorie S Zatz, “The Convergence of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class on Court Decisionmaking: Looking Toward the 21st Century” (2000) 3:1 Criminal Justice.

Media Indonesia, “Noor Rochmad and Asep N Mulyana (Head and Committee of Indonesian Prosecutor’s Association), Pursuing Anti-Terrorism Law as Proactive Law Enforcement (Menjadikan UU Terorisme sebagai Proactive Law Enforcement)”, Media Indonesia (21 May 2018), online: .

Natasha Hamilton-Hart, “Terrorism In Southeast Asia: Expert Analysis, Myopia And Fantasy” (2005) 18:3 The Pacific Review.

Nicola McGarrity & George Williams, “When Extraordinary Measures Become Normal: Pre-emption in Counter-Terrorism and Other Laws” in Nicola McGarrity, Andrew Lynch, & George Williams, eds, Counter-Terrorism and Beyond: The Culture of Law and Justice after 9/11 (Routledge, 2010).

Nour Dados & Raewyn Connell, “The Global South” (2012) 11:1 Contexts.

Pablo Leandro Ciocchini, “Reinterpreting Chaos as Diversity: An Alternative Legal Approach from the Global South” in Pablo Leandro Ciocchini & George Baylon Radics, eds, Criminal Legalities in The Global South: Cultural Dynamics, Political Tensions, and Institutional Practices (Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY: Routledge, 2020).

Phil Palmer, “Dealing With The Exceptional: Pre-Crime Anti-Terrorism Policy And Practice” (2012) 22:4 Policing and Society.

Patrick Glenn, Legal Traditions of the World: Sustainable Diversity in Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

Piers Beirne & David Nelken, Issues in Comparative Criminology (Aldershot, England; Brookfield, Vt., USA: Ashgate/Dartmouth: Darmouth Publishing’, 1997).

Raewyn Connell, Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in Social Science (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 2007).

Raymond Geuss, The Idea Of A Critical Theory: Habermas And The Frankfurt School (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).

Richard Jackson, Routledge Handbook of Critical Terrorism Studies (Routledge, 2016).

———, Terrorism: A Critical Introduction (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

———, Writing The War On Terrorism: Language, Politics And Counter-Terrorism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005).

Rohan Gunaratna, Terrorism in the Asia-Pacific: threat and response (Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 2003).

Rachael Diprose & Muhammad Najib Azca, “Past Communal Conflict and Contemporary Security Debates in Indonesia” (2019) 49:5 Journal of Contemporary Asia: Two Decades of Reformasi in Indonesia: An Illiberal Turn? 780.

Rebecca Ananian-Welsh & George Williams, “The New Terrorists: The Normalisation And Spread Of Anti-Terror Laws In Australia” (2014) 38 Melbourne University Law Review.

Rebecca Campbell, Debra Patterson, & Deborah Bybee, “Using Mixed Methods to Evaluate a Community Intervention for Sexual Assault Survivors: A Methodological Tale” (2011) 17:3 Violence Against Women 376–388.

Richard Jackson, “Constructing Enemies: ‘Islamic Terrorism’ in Political and Academic Discourse” (2007) 42:7 Government and Opposition 394–426.

———, “The Core Commitments of Critical Terrorism Studies” (2007) 6:3 European Political Science 244–251.

Rifqi S Assegaf & Melissa Crouch, “The Supreme Court: Reformasi, Independence, and the Failure to Ensure Legal Certainty” in The Politics of Court Reform: Judicial Change and Legal Culture in Indonesia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).

Robert Diab, “R v Khawaja and the Fraught Question of Rehabilitation in Terrorism Sentencing” (2014) 39:2 Queen’s Law Journal.

———, “Sentencing for Terrorism Offences: A Comparative Review of Emerging Jurisprudence” (2011) 15:3 Canadian Criminal Law Review.

Robert R Strang, “More Adversarial, But Not Completely Adversarial: Reformasi Of The Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code” (2008) 32:1 Fordham International Law Journal.

Robert W Hefner, “Introduction: Indonesia at the Crossroads: Imbroglios of Religion, State, and Society in an Asian Muslim Nation” in Robert W Hefner & Barbara Watson Andaya, eds, Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Indonesia (Routledge, 2018).

Rohan Gunaratna, “The Islamic State’s Eastward Expansion” (2016) 39:1 The Washington Quarterly.

Rohan Gunaratna & Aviv Oreg, “Al Qaeda’s Organizational Structure and its Evolution” (2010) 33:12 Studies in Conflict & Terrorism.

Rohan Gunaratna & Haynal Cleo, “Current and Emerging Threats of Homegrown Terrorism: The Case of the Boston Bombings’” (2013) 7:3 Perspectives on Terrorism.

———, The Global Jihad Movement (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015).

Robert Diab, The Sentencing of Terrorism Offences After 9/11: A Comparative Review of Early Case Law (Canada: Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, 2011).

Sebastiaan Pompe, The Indonesian Supreme Court: A Study Of Institutional Collapse (Cornell University Press, Southeast Asia Program Publications at Cornell University, 2005).

Stanley Cohen, Against Criminology (New Brunswick, USA: Transaction Books, 1988).

Shlomit Wallerstein, “Criminalizing Remote Harm And The Case Of Anti-Democratic Activity” (2006) 28 Cardozo Law Review.

Sidney Jones, “Briefing for the New President: The Terrorist Threat in Indonesia and Southeast Asia” (2008) 618:1 The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

———, “Terrorism in the Region: Changing Alliances, New Directions” in Russell Hiang-Khng Heng & Rahul Sen, eds, Regional Outlook: Southeast Asia 2006-2007 (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2006).

———, “The Changing Nature of Jemaah Islamiyah’” (2005) 59:2 Australian Journal of International Affairs.

———, “The Ongoing Extremist Threat in Indonesia’” (2011) Southeast Asian Affairs ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute 91–104.

Sidney Jones & Solahudin, “ISIS in Indonesia” (2015) Southeast Asian Affairs ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute 154–163.
Tempo, “Jokowi Asks to Take Extraordinary Measures in Fighting Terrorism”, Tempo (22 May 2018), online: .

Timothy Lindsey, Indonesia: Law and Society, 2nd ed (New South Wales: The Federation Press, 2008).

Tim Lindsey, Indonesian Trial Process and Legal System (Asian Law Centre The University of Melbourne).

V Scheirs, K Beyens, & S Snacken, “Belgian Sentencing as a Bifurcated Practice?” (2016) 45 Crime and Justice 267–306.

Vedi R Hadiz, “Islamic Politics In Southeast Asia: A Critical Reassessment” (2013) 1:2 TRaNS: Trans-Regional and-National Studies of Southeast Asia.

Wadie E Said, “The message and means of the modern terrorism prosecution. (Ten Years After 9/11: Rethinking Counterterrorism)” (2012) 21:1 Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems.

Zachary Abuza, “Funding Terrorism in Southeast Asia: The Financial Network of Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya’” (2003) 25:2 Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affair.

———, “Tentacles of terror: Al Qaeda’s Southeast Asian network” (2002) 24:3 Contemporary Southeast Asia.

Zachary Abuza, Militant Islam in Southeast Asia: Crucible of Terror (Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003).
How to Cite
ISTIQOMAH, Milda; ALIMARDANI, Armin. The Tension Between Combating Terrorism and Protecting the Right to a Fair Trial in Indonesia. Lentera Hukum, [S.l.], v. 10, n. 1, p. 1-44, may 2023. ISSN 2621-3710. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 26 july 2024. doi:

Most read articles by the same author(s)

Obs.: This plugin requires at least one statistics/report plugin to be enabled. If your statistics plugins provide more than one metric then please also select a main metric on the admin's site settings page and/or on the journal manager's settings pages.