Indonesian Supreme Court justice dies

 January 24, 2024

His decisions influenced millions, but few have heard of him outside his native country. The chief justice of Indonesia's Supreme Court, Yahya Harahap, has died.

The influential judge, who retired in 2000, was 89 years old.

"Yes, that's right," said a Supreme Court spokesman, confirming the death.

The court said Harahap would be buried after Asr prayers, one of the mandatory prayers in Islam.

Indonesian Supreme Court justice dies

Harahap was born in the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where he studied law at the University of North Sumatra, taking a Bachelor of Law degree in 1960 and later, a Master's in 1963.

After years of rising up in the court system, he became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1982.

He was also a widely cited author of dozens of books on Indonesian law and a guest lecturer at universities throughout Indonesia.

His writings are a common reference for lawyers in the country.

"HRH Mr. H. M. Yahya Harahap is a prolific Supreme Court Justice in his work. His books are very useful and become a reference for practitioners, both Judges, Prosecutors, Police, and Advocates. His books are his charity field in the world of law enforcement in Indonesia," the Supreme Court said previously.

Islamic law rises in Indonesia

Despite being the largest Muslim country in the world, Indonesia has a civil law code derived from the Roman-Dutch model.

However, many in the country have expressed support for Islamic law, and the influence of Islam over the legal system is perceived to have grown. Aceh, a semi-autonomous province in the north of Sumatra, practices sharia.

About 10 percent of Indonesians are Christian.

In 2017, the Indonesian Supreme Court rejected an effort to make sodomy illegal.

Indonesia adopted a new criminal code in 2022 that bans sex outside marriage, effectively criminalizing sodomy. The country's deeply conservative sexual mores have led to criticism from Western human rights organizations and governments, including the Biden administration.

Still, President Biden welcomed Indonesia's president Joko Widodo in November as part of an effort to build partnerships with Pacific nations. Indonesia has the fourth-largest population in the world and is a strategic partner of the United States.

“This will mark a new era in relations between the United States and Indonesia across the board,” Biden said.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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