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Judicial Discretion and the Minimum Statutory Sentence for Migrant Smuggling through Indonesia

  • Wayne PALMER (a1) and Antje MISSBACH (a2)
Abstract

The general, but false, perception of migrant smuggling through Indonesia, a large, archipelagic country, is that smugglers operate entirely on their own. In fact, the more complex smuggling operations rely on broad networks of foreign organizers as well as local intermediaries and ground staff. In 2011, the Indonesian legislature introduced a severe minimum sentence for any involvement in migrant smuggling with the expectation that the judiciary would apply the sentence in all future cases. However, some judges proceeded to hand down sentences below the statutory minimum, arguing that the punishment is not commensurate to the relatively minor roles played by locals. This article examines how judges at all levels of the judiciary did so in ten related cases. In conclusion, it argues that statutory sentences are not mandatory in Indonesia and that, by applying below-minimum sentences, judges not only maintain judicial independence; they also effectively exercise a judicial review function.

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Copyright
Footnotes
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Dr Wayne Palmer is a lecturer in the Department of International Relations, Bina Nusantara University, Indonesia. Correspondence to Wayne Palmer, Jl. K. H. Syahdan No. 9, Kemanggisan, Jakarta Barat 11480, Indonesia. E-mail address: wpalmer@binus.edu.

**

Dr Antje Missbach is a senior lecturer and Research Fellow at the School of Social Sciences, Monash University, Australia. The authors would like to thank Rizky Assegaf and two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments on earlier drafts of this article.

Footnotes
References
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Asian Journal of Law and Society
  • ISSN: 2052-9015
  • EISSN: 2052-9023
  • URL: /core/journals/asian-journal-of-law-and-society
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