Striving for Justice: Expansion of Legal Aid Program for the Poor in Indonesia

September 19, 2012

Jakarta, 19 September 2012 – The World Bank and the Directorate General for Religious Courts celebrate ‘Justice Day’, a commemoration of 130 years of the Religious Courts and 10 years of the Justice for the Poor program, a Bank-supported initiative that widens access to legal services for marginalized households.

Continued economic growth requires an effective legal system and strong law enforcement, as well as the protection and provision of citizens’ basic rights.  According to the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, approximately 4 billion people around the world are deprived of access to basic instruments of justice, and suffer from the impact of poor law enforcement.

The legal services that the Religious Courts provided for 130 years have helped fill this gap.  The Religious Courts provide free services through legal aid outposts and offices, and hold ‘mobile’ courts in order to serve poor and marginalized communities facing legal disputes.  The World Bank continues to support these efforts through the Justice for the Poor program.  These efforts include improving the synergy of the various programs, building capacity at the local level, and training of paralegals in their efforts to offer both informal and formal mechanisms of dispute resolution.  The program also strengthens ties between the paralegal network, various legal organizations, media outlets, community organizations, and government agencies.

“Better justice requires continuous improvements of legal services,” said Stefan Koeberle, World Bank Country Director for Indonesia.  “The World Bank therefore supports the Justice for the Poor program to strengthen legal reforms at the local level, through greater efficiency and transparency.”

In 2011, a number of Religious Courts programs achieved targets beyond their expectations.  Legal aid programs at 46 Religious Courts served more than 35,000 people seeking justice, three times the initial target.  The ‘mobile’ courts program successfully handled more than 18,550 cases, or 60 per cent more than targeted. Meanwhile, free legal aid was provided to some 10,500 clients.

“This is the tenth year for the Justice for the Poor program in Indonesia, with generous contributions from AusAid, the Netherlands, and DFID, and its efforts to expand access to justice for poor communities,” says Sonja Litz, World Bank senior legal advisor for the Justice for the Poor program.  “This program has strived to ensure that the poor are more aware of their rights and that their voices are heard.  We are very proud to have worked closely with many legal aid organizations, and with PEKKA, in our efforts to provide training to legal aid practitioners and the paralegal community.  Today we also celebrate the work of other agencies who have contributed to expanding access to justice for the poor, specifically the Religious Courts.  We pay tribute to their extraordinary achievements and to the leadership of Director-General Wahyu Widiana.”

The Justice for the Poor program has also supported the design and implementation of vital government legislation, including the National Strategy for Access to Justice, and Law no. 16, which aims to build a national legal aid system that specifically targets poor households.  This legislation acknowledges the role of paralegals in providing legal aid and in resolving disputes, both through formal and informal mechanisms.  This important legislation needs in its implementation the support of various agencies, including international organizations.

Media Contacts
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Randy Salim
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Mohamad Al-Arief
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