Universiteit Leiden

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Institutions for Conflict Resolution (COI)

Customary law in state governance and the judiciary

State utilization of 'hukum adat' and its implication for the Indonesian rule of law

Customary law remains a reliable justice system for people in developing countries, including Indonesia. This situation encourages state administration and judiciary to recognize the applicability of customary norms, governance and dispute settlement mechanisms. Even further, there are also some attempts to incorporate customary law features into the state legal system and structure. For instance, through the Indonesia Village Law of 2014, the government recognized the ‘adat village’ and re-created it as an autonomous institution and administrative unit of state governance. The ongoing initiative on the Bill of Indonesia Criminal Code also tries to put hukum adat (customary law) as a basis for criminal punishment, thereby enabling judges to use written customary law as a basis for criminal sentences. This research investigates why and how the state utilizes customary law. Moreover, it evaluates how these utilizations promote and impede the formal, substantive and controlling functions of the rule of law.

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