Access that court

In a speech before the International Association of Court and Administrator 2011 seminar, Indonesian President Yudhoyono pledged to improve access to justice for the poor. Here is an except from The Jakarta Globe:

“We have to widen access by making court cases free, granting consultation and legal aid and providing mobile trials,” he said. 

In the next two years, the government plans to increase the number of free litigation cases from 4,000 a year to 11,000. It also plans to provide legal aid for more than 11,500 cases while establishing mobile courts in 233 spots around the country. 

“For that reason, strengthening civil society is an important factor in allowing the people to have effective access to justice,” he said. “The government has prepared a strategy for national access to justice in the 2010 presidential decree about Justice Development.” 

While I didn’t hear the full speech, from what I’ve seen the absence of any mention of corruption is striking – certainly an elephant in the room! From what I’ve heard from rule of law reformers in Indonesia, the problem isn’t access so much as lack of faith in the courts. Potential litigants simply don’t believe they will get a fair hearing, or moreover that the benefits of litigation are worth the costs. Apathy is the general feeling. In fact, USAID recently solicited proposals to stimulate demand-side rule of law reforms in Indonesia, namely getting more Indonesian stakeholders to care about the courts. Hopefully Yudhoyono’s plan to reduce barriers to litigation will help somewhat in this effort.

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