Apr 21, 2018 Last Updated 11:42 PM, Apr 19, 2018

Justice: who gets it and who doesn’t?

Published: Jul 15, 2007


Geoff Mulherin

Who actually gets access to justice? This question is asked in countries around the world – developed and developing. Too often those with status or wealth win out over the rest – ordinary citizens, the disadvantaged, minorities. Too often also law reform is focused not at assisting the most vulnerable in a society, but at satisfying the interests of international investors and domestic elites.

Law reform has been a big topic in Indonesia since Suharto’s authoritarian regime collapsed in 1998. As Tim Lindsey observes in the lead article to this edition, there have been hundreds of new laws, regulations and institutions created. Yet these reforms are taking place on a foundation of 60 years of legal system dysfunction and corruption, and in an environment where there are limited funds available to support the new institutions and laws.

There are some real positives in the reform story to date. Simon Butt writes that the Constitutional Court is taking seriously its role – novel for Indonesia – of judicial review of government decisions, while Ratna Bataramunti describes how new anti-domestic violence legislation is holding out hope for improved lives for women. Judicial independence is increasing.

Yet the question for Inside Indonesia is whether the ordinary citizen is getting a fairer deal? On this front there are still many obstacles. Defence lawyer Irianto Subiakto argues that while ‘macro’ level reform is essential, little has changed in courts at the local level. Annie Feith describes how the new Human Rights Court has failed to bring justice to Papuan victims of abuse. Almost as though answering her question of whether non-Papuans would have fared better, Agung Putri reminds us that the same court has failed victims of abuses in East Timor and Tanjung Priok also.

After seven years of break-neck pace reform on paper, the time has come to devote effort to implementing these reforms, with a focus on the interests of ordinary people, not just the elite.

Geoff Mulherin (gmulherin@lawfoundation.net.au) is guest editor of Inside Indonesia and the director of the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW. 

Inside Indonesia 87: Jul-Sep 2006

Latest Articles

Review: History wars in the Netherlands

Apr 11, 2018 - JOOST COTE

Boys under the blade

Mar 09, 2018 - BROOKE NOLAN

Wawonii boys. Credit: Brooke Nolan

Entertainment, violence and inclusion all play a part in the circumcision practices of a remote corner of Southeast Sulawesi

Saving Lombok’s beaches 

Mar 09, 2018 - GARY FORSDIKE

Loading the day's waste from Gili Air for transport to a Lombok dump

Well-informed local organisations could save Lombok’s beaches from a largely local threat 

Diplomasi pendopo dan gamelan sekar laras

Feb 16, 2018 - DUNCAN GRAHAM

Crossing the finish line

Feb 13, 2018 - JOSH STENBERG 2

Wilson Tjandinegara (photo courtesy of Guoji Ribao)

Bilingual Chinese-Indonesian writer Wilson Tjandinegara built bridges within Indonesia’s literary culture

Subscribe to Inside Indonesia

Receive Inside Indonesia's latest articles and quarterly editions in your inbox.

 


Lontar Modern Indonesia

Lontar-Logo-Ok

 

A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar

30th Anniversary Book

Inside Indonesia - 30th Anniversary Photo Book

 

Have you bought your copy of Inside Indonesia's 30th Anniversary book yet?

The book features 30 of the judges' favourite images from the 2013 Inside Indonesia Photography Competition.

Preview the book  and order your copy online (Soft cover approx AUD$23.00 / Hard cover approx AUD$35.00).