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Indonesia to bring better legal aid to the poor

Millions of dollars allocated

Indonesia to bring better legal aid to the poor

The government has approved a massive injection of funds to give the poor better access to legal advice

Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

July 29, 2013

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The Ministry of Law and Human Rights signed agreements over the weekend with 310 accredited legal aid organizations who will receive funds amounting to 40.8 billion rupiah (US3.9 million).

Until now legal aid organizations could provide only a limited service because they had to rely on donations.

“We must admit that, all this time, legal aid has yet to reach poor people. They still face difficulty in accessing justice,” President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said in a speech before signing the agreements at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta.

“It’s time for us to pay serious attention to poor people who cannot afford [lawyers] and know nothing about the law,” he added.

The move comes as part of efforts to implement a 2011 legal aid bill, which intends to provide all Indonesians with the right to justice and equality before the law.

Many believe the present legal system is plagued by miscarriages of justice against people who are mostly poor and unable to defend themselves.

According to Wicipto Setiadi, head of the ministry’s national law development agency, people will be entitled to subsidized legal aid of up to five million rupiah per case, with legal aid organizations able to access a governmental reimbursement program.

Australia, through the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice, supported the ministry in setting up the new system and is conducting the accreditation process.

“This marks an important milestone towards better access to justice and rule of law in Indonesia,” said Australian ambassador Greg Moriarty.

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