Factors Contributing to Terrorism Sentencing Outcomes in Indonesia: A Case Study Analysis

Ms Milda Istiqomah1

1UNSW, Kingsford, Sydney, Australia

Problem. Social researchers have conducted many studies of sentencing decisions examining factors that are likely to influence the sentencing outcome. In terrorism prosecutions, Amirault and Bouchard examine the impact of incident-based contextual factors on terrorism sentencing outcomes. They argue that the context in which an offender is adjudicated significantly affect sentencing terrorism decisions. While some research has been carried out on the factors that contribute to terrorism sentencing outcomes in Western jurisdictions, there are no studies that explain what factors contribute to sentencing decisions in Indonesian terrorism prosecutions.

Aims. This thesis is exploratory in nature and takes a mixed methods approach (using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods) to accomplish three primary objectives. The primary objectives are to (1) analyse the law and policy framework for the sentencing of terrorism cases in Indonesia; (2) examine what factors that contribute to sentence length in terrorism prosecutions drawn from quantitative and qualitative analysis and to (3) explore judicial reasoning and sentencing purposes of terrorism offence in Indonesia.

Methods. The first method focuses on sentence length in Indonesian terrorism prosecutions and identifies factors that are statistically significant predictors of sentence length. Information written in the verdicts has been coded into 47 independent variables to determine the association between the factors and the sentence length (n=135). The second method uses an in-depth and contextualised qualitative analysis on the text of eight terrorism judgements to examine factors to be taken into account in sentencing and the rationale of the punishment imposed by judges.

General Results. Bivariate analysis indicates that variables related to harm or injury to victims or property are factors that statistically significant to sentence length. There is a substantial difference between sentences of those who caused death/injury to the victims and those who did not. The qualitative analysis captures the complexity of the sentencing for terrorism offences that shows: (1) judges apply wide judicial discretion in the sentencing of preparatory terrorism offences; (2)  factors that are related to offender characteristics are taken into account in deciding the sentences, and this method is done on a case-by-case basis and (3) lack of consistency in legal reasoning and sentencing purposes due to the absence of philosophy punishment.  Implications and suggestions for future research will be discussed.


Milda Istiqomah is a PhD Candidate at the Law, UNSW. Her research area is on terrorism, deradicalisation program in Indonesia, court and sentencing in terrorism prosecutions

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