Suppression of lawyers
L4L has been informed that lawyers are mainly suppressed by (indirect) intimidation in various manners. According to reputable sources it has happened that highly placed officers visited Indonesian lawyers at home, with the sole objective to prevent them from providing legal aid to certain citizens in important legal cases. Furthermore, lawyers are hindered from exercising their profession through anonymous messages – allegedly emanating from the government – in order to pressure them to withhold or withdraw from representing citizens in legal proceedings. For example, anonymous (death) threats have been expressed to lawyers through text messages and written on the outside of a car.
Legal profession in Indonesia
There are no reliable data on the number of lawyers in Indonesia. According to the 2011 membership data of Indonesia’s only recognized bar association, Perhimpunan Advokat Indonesia (PERADI), the number of lawyers in Indonesia is 23.075, which is a very low number considering the size of Indonesia’s population (currently estimated at 249 million). In addition, many paralegals are active in Indonesia. These paralegals often work for legal aid organizations. The most prominent legal aid organization is Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia or YLBHI, which was established in 1970 and which has branch offices in thirteen cities across Indonesia. Finally, many other legally oriented non-governmental organizations provide legal assistance to (members of) vulnerable groups, such as the urban poor, farmers and indigenous peoples. In the last decade the role of lawyers has been codified through adaptation by the Indonesian government of several regulations on the competences and special position of lawyers.
Indonesia has a Lawyers Act (Undang-Undang No. 18/2003 tentang Advokat), which was adopted in 2003. Under the Lawyers Act, anyone who wants to exercise the profession of a lawyer in Indonesia must be a member of the Bar Association (Organisasi Advokat). Furthermore, the profession of lawyer may be executed by
Indonesian citizens who are minimum 25 years old, possess a bachelor’s degree of law and have successfully finished the exam provided for by the Bar Association. The Lawyers Act prescribes that the Bar Association is responsible for the registration of lawyers, grants licenses, issues a professional code and imposes disciplinary measures. PERADI is considered an independent organization.
Next to that, Indonesian lawyers are subject to the Kode Etik Advokat (Lawyers’ Code of Ethics) of 2002. Pursuant to the Code of Ethics, lawyers are supervised by
PERADI’s Honorary Council. In addition, they are supervised by the Minister of Law and Human Rights and the Supreme Court of the Republic of Indonesia.
In 2011, the Indonesian House of Representatives enacted a Law on Legal Aid. This law aims to guarantee the provision of legal aid to low-income people. Such legal
assistance is to be provided by legal aid organizations which are accredited and supervised by the Minister of Law and Human Rights. Legal aid organizations may recruit lawyers, paralegals, and teachers and students from law faculties to provide legal assistance.
L4L organized a letter writing campaign for Olga Hamadi, human rights lawyer in Papua, in October 2012. L4L continues to monitor the human rights situation in Indonesia and the position of human rights lawyers in particular.
International Human Rights Treaties
Indonesia has acceded to/ratified the following treaties:
– International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), acceded to on 23 February 2006.
– ASEAN Charter (Association of South East Asian Nations), acceded to in November 2007.
– Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), ratified on 13 September 1985.
– International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), acceded to on 25 June 1999.
– International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), acceded to on 23 February 2006.
– Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, ratified on 28 October 1998.
– Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRDP), ratified on 30 November 2011.
– Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), ratified on 5 September 1990.
– Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (CRC-OP-AC), ratified on 24 September 2012.
– Optional Protocol on the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children child prostitution and child pornography (CRC_OP-SC), ratified on 24 September
– International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, ratified on 31 May 2012.