In their verdict announced on 25 November 2021, judges of the Indonesian constitutional court ruled that the Omnibus Law for Job Creation or Law No 11/2020 on Job Creation contradicts the 1945 constitution. The panel of judges did not revoke the law but gave the government and the Indonesian parliament two years to amend the law. However, the law will still be in effect for two years. The judges elaborated that the Government may not issue new implementing regulations for the Omnibus Law until the law has been revised.
Human rights observers considered the decision as a “legal compromise” because the judges did not immediately revoke the law. This compromise was also mirrored by the judges’ poll for the verdict. Four of the nine judges represented the view that the law did not contradict the constitution. They argued that the Omnibus Law is really needed. Otherwise, the parliament would have to adopt 78 laws through a lengthy process.
“If we look at the track record of the Constitutional Court, we can see that the Constitutional Court often makes political considerations, not only legal considerations. Therefore, the solution was to declare the law ‘conditionally unconstitutional’ for two years”, said constitutional law expert, Bivitri Susanti, during an interview with media outlet BBC Indonesia.
The Government, represented through the coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Airlangga Hartarto, and the Minister for Law and Human Rights, Yasonna H. Laoly (see photo, source: Jubi), explained in an interview that the government honours the verdict and will amend the law in accordance with the constitutional court’s guidelines in the upcoming two years. If the government and parliament fail to amend the Omnibus law within this period, the Omnibus Law will become permanently unconstitutional and the former legislation will automatically be valid again.
The Indonesian parliament passed the controversial omnibus law on 5 October 2020, ignoring the fears, concerns and warnings that Indonesian civil society expressed in numerous large-scale protests in almost all parts of the archipelago. According to the Indonesian newspaper Kompas, 5,918 protesters were arrested and at least 204 security guards were injured.
The original bill was 1,035 pages long but was later shortened to 812 pages. The Omnibus Law includes changes to 78 existing laws in various areas, including fisheries, agriculture and forestry, energy and mineral resources, industry and trade. The law is part of the government’s long-term strategy to make Indonesia one of the five largest economic powers in the world by 2045.
In fact, the Omnibus law is a product of the Indonesian elite. 127 persons were involved in drafting the law. Most of them were affiliated with business and employers’ associations. The rest consisted of representatives from provincial and district ministries. Workers, indigenous peoples and the Indonesian rural population – the groups which will primarily face the negative impact of the law – were left out of the drafting process.