Govt to offer free legal aid for the poor
Paper Edition | Page: 4
The Law and Human Rights Ministry is preparing a regulation that will guarantee the provision of free legal aid for those on low incomes.
Head of the National Law Development Agency (BPHN), Wicipto Setiadi, said the draft of the government regulation, which is expected to be ready by January 2013, will allow the impoverished to receive free legal assistance from government-selected legal aid organizations.
“Low-income people on legal aid have the right to be accompanied by certified lawyers, paralegals or law faculty students. They will be given assistance from the moment they file a police report through a court trial,” he told The Jakarta Post over the weekend.
The new regulation will implement Law No. 16/2011 on the provision of legal aid.
One of the prime reasons for introducing the law is the recognition many of the country’s disadvantaged are denied access to legal services because of their economic
A provision in the draft law allows impoverished individuals to use their free health service (Jamkesmas) cards to obtain free legal aid if they have no identity cards.
With the regulation in place, the government aims to ensure that no one has to face trial without proper legal assistance.
“We will no longer see people being tried in court without being accompanied by lawyers or paralegals,” he said.
Wicipto said that once the government regulation was issued, the Law and Human Rights Ministry would launch a certification program for all legal aid organizations.
Legal aid organizations affiliated with political parties, however, will be prohibited from offering such legal aid services.
The government is also expected to set up an independent committee to carry out the certification process.
“The independent committee will also certify paralegals and law faculty students to ensure that they have a minimum required level of knowledge about the law, judiciary and standard services for legal aid recipients,” he said.
The government will allow the recruitment of paralegals and law students to offer services in the country’s more remote regions.
The draft regulation requires legal aid organizations, including law firms, to have a minimum number of partners, a permanent office and certified lawyers.
BPHN spokesman Kristomo Constantine said legal aid organizations affiliated with political parties would not receive money from the government so as to prevent them from using the money to attract voters at a grass-roots level.
Kristomo said the government had earmarked Rp 53 billion (US$5.51 million) to provide free legal aid in the 2013 draft state budget.
He said the government would also monitor closely how legal aid organizations spent their money.
“Legal aid organizations have been critical of the government but as of January 2013, the government and the public will be able to monitor the legal aids organizations on how they use their funds,” he said.
The legal aid law and the draft government regulation have met strong opposition from the Indonesian Bar Association (Peradi), while law firm Suryodiningrat has submitted a request for a judicial review of the law with the Constitutional Court.