Maharani Putri S. Wibowo
Deputy Director for State Apparatus and Bureaucratic Transformation, National Development Planning Agency

The submitted reform showcases the impacts that the provision of legal aid in Indonesia has had, and the added value of the innovations currently underway to make the service more inclusive.

To uphold equality before the law for all citizens, the Government of Indonesia (GoI) provides free legal aid for economically-disadvantaged communities. In so doing, the GoI allocates a portion of the national budget directly to communities through Legal Aid Organizations to provide litigation and non-litigation services across the country. Legal aid plays an essential role in access to justice, ranging from providing legal empowerment to assistance during judicial proceedings.

Vulnerable persons and groups are prone to face more obstacles in accessing justice. For instance, only 8.7% of women undergoing judicial proceedings received legal assistance while only 0.4% had representation. Furthermore, 38.7% of children and 46.7% of people with disability were discriminated against, and 16.7% of gender minorities were insulted. Meanwhile, 55.9% of vulnerable justice-seekers come from low-income communities, meaning they lack the financial ability to access the justice they need (Legal Needs Survey, 2022).

While legal aid in Indonesia is undoubtedly impactful, challenges remain to ensure it is inclusive enough. This is mainly due to a lack of budget allocations (especially for non-litigation purposes) and the narrow scope of eligible recipients acknowledged in Law Number 16 Year 2011 on Legal Aid.

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Maharani Putri S. Wibowo
Deputy Director for State Apparatus and Bureaucratic Transformation, National Development Planning Agency
Throughout 2018-2022, approximately 73,000 individuals received free legal aid. In 2022, recipients included over 2,000 stay-at-home mothers, 1,545 unemployed persons, 330 children, 1,001 farmers, and 873 trade workers. Indonesia is able to achieve this impact partly due to its unique funding scheme from the government directly to over 600 legal aid providers across Indonesia to provide litigation and non-litigation activities. Funding aside, the MLHR also conducts monitoring and evaluation and provides training for legal aid providers and assistants (e.g., paralegals) to build their capacities in assisting vulnerable justice-seekers. For instance, in 2021 the MLHR became one of the resource persons for Paralegal Training events held throughout four villages in Papua by the APIK Association in Indonesia. As a bonus, the MLHR transparently shows the budget allocation and use of funds through the platform. Such transparency and openness to meaningfully involve the public contribute to meaningful collaborations being born to make justice more inclusive. With regard to added value, the present effort to increase standardization in legal aid services will ensure that hundreds of legal aid providers throughout Indonesia are equipped with the ability to conduct in-depth vulnerability assessments and provide quality services accordingly. This will also be supported by the amendment of the present Law on Legal Aid to increase the scope of recipients. Secondly, reformulation of legal aid funding will contribute to catering to wider non-litigation needs for vulnerable persons and groups, which in the long run could be part of preventing legal problems from arising through education and empowerment. The fund expansion will also guarantee that vulnerable persons and groups undergoing court procedures can have enough fees not only to pay for representation, but also receive sufficient fees to cover costs that arise from investigation stages such as examinations (witness, medical, physical, etc.), and the requirement of fulfilling administrative documents, among others. No less importantly, the reform will also focus on budget usage flexibility that can offer more need-based legal services and efficient administrative procedures. In other words, the budget intake can be more effective, based not only on quantitative intake but also on the quality of budget reimbursement in fulfilling the legal aid needs in communities.
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