Global Policy Forum

NGOs File Civil Lawsuit against


By Urip Hudiono

Jakarta Post
February 6, 2004

Three non-governmental organizations filed a lawsuit against President Megawati Soekarnoputri on Thursday at the Central Jakarta District Court for issuing Presidential Instruction No. 5/2003 on an economic policy package with International Monetary Fund (IMF) monitoring. In their suit, the plaintiffs -- the Indonesian Debt Watch Foundation (DWI), the Indonesian Independent Network of Civil Society for Development Transparency and Accountability (JARI) and the Jakarta Citizens Forum (Fakta) -- argued that by issuing the presidential instruction, Megawati had violated the People's Consultative Assembly Decree No. VI/2002, which mandates the government to end all agreements with the IMF by the end of 2003. "The instruction can also be considered deception of the public as it is essentially another agreement with the IMF without consent from the House of Representatives," said head of DWI, Arimbi Heroepoetri. She said their main concern was that because of the presidential instruction, providing the legal basis for Indonesia's post-IMF monitoring program with the Fund, the government had neglected the people's welfare and handed over the country's economy to "neoliberal forces" by continuing its relationship with the IMF. According to the plaintiffs, the IMF's structural adjustment programs, which include strict budgeting policies, good governance, anticorruption measures, liberalization of the monetary and trade sector and privatization of several ailing, inefficient state companies had worsened the country's economic condition and social welfare, as evidenced by the increase in state debt, the increased unemployment and further destitution of farmers and other workers. The plaintiffs also said the economic recovery programs hurt the general public. They said the people have seen their subsidies cut in order to pay off the country's debts to foreign governments and agencies. "Is it fair to the public when the debts of mismanaged private companies become state debts?" Arimbi added. In their primary plea for the case, the plaintiffs requested the court to declare Megawati guilty of violating the law by issuing the presidential instruction. They also demanded the court to annul the instruction and order her to comply with the Assembly's decree in drafting economic policies favoring public social welfare in accordance with the Constitution without the involvement of the IMF. Megawati must also publicly apologize to the Indonesian people and pay compensation of Rp 166.75 million (US$19,851) for the plaintiffs' expenses in filing the suit as well as the court's administrative fees, if found guilty. In their subsidiary plea, the plaintiffs said that if the court had a different legal opinion about the case, it should still consider the public's sense of justice, known by the Latin legal terms ex aequo et bono. A member of the plaintiffs' legal counsel team, Tubagus Haryo Karbyanto, said that after filing the lawsuit, it usually took three to four weeks before the court finally announced whether the case would go to trial or not. "The court has to legally verify the suit and appoint a panel of judges for the case first," he said.

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