Access to justice for the poor in Indonesia

Access to justice for the poor in IndonesiaPhoto: UNICEF/HQ97-0690 Josh Estey

Legal assistance and access to information are two of the essential services offered by the Legal Empowerment and Assistance of the Disadvantaged (LEAD) project in Indonesia, which is designed to help make access to justice a reality at the community level. By focusing on access to legal services, legal and human rights awareness and legal capacity development, this joint initiative of UNDP and Indonesia's National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS) tackles the challenge from two perspectives: building the capacity of civil society and communities to understand and demand their rights and then opening up channels of constructive engagement between government and civil society.

The starting point for the project was a comprehensive assessment of access to justice for the most disadvantaged populations in the post-conflict provinces of West Kalimantan, Maluku, North Maluku, Central Sulawesi and Southeast Sulawesi, as well as in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam. It found that economic concerns presented the strongest challenge to access to justice among the thousands of people interviewed a reflection of the priorities in many Indonesian communities where people struggle daily to earn a basic living.

As a woman in the village of Kailia-Lia explained, "When we have our own homes..., when our children can have an adequate education, and when we can live safely and peacefully and have enough food and drink for each day. If we can achieve this, then we will have justice."

UNDP alongside other UN agencies, the World Bank and civil society organizations, collaborated with BAPPENAS to draft the country's National Strategy on Access to Justice. This strategy, which focuses on society's most disadvantaged and marginalized groups, recognizes access to justice for the poor as a critical means of eradicating poverty and recommends that government policies across all sectors aim explicitly to reach the most vulnerable persons and communities.