Jun 14, 2024 Last Updated 8:34 AM, May 27, 2024

Building social and legal reform

Australian lawyers and judges lend a hand


The Hon Justice Marcus Einfeld AO QC PhD

For the past four years, Australian Legal Resources International (ALRI) has been heavily involved in co-operative efforts to transform and democratise Indonesian law and justice. Even in this short time, ALRI’s initiatives have produced remarkable results. In the process we and our Indonesian partners have strengthened relations between the Australian and Indonesian peoples as well as deepening mutual understanding of our respective cultures and legal systems.

ALRI is an independent non-governmental corporation of judges and lawyers that works to support countries seeking to establish or reinforce democracy, social justice, human rights and good governance. We help design and implement capacity-building and institution-strengthening activities, with particular emphasis on the courts and the judges. ALRI receives significant AusAID funds to implement our activities in Indonesia. Other donor funds and internal matching funds support this work.

The beginning

ALRI’s program in Indonesia began in 1998. The first part of the program consisted of two analysis missions and extensive consultations with a wide range of government and non-government bodies and individuals. Our subsequent report identified a series of priorities for the judiciary, the legislature and the government, as well as other bodies.

In March 1999 ALRI opened an office in Jakarta to facilitate local planning and liaison. The office provided a permanent organisational base and a language clearing house. In June that year, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indonesian Cabinet Secretariat for the provision of legal technical assistance and an implementing arrangement with the Department of Justice. We continue to consult widely in Indonesia to ensure that we are doing what Indonesia wants us to do.

Working with the judiciary

In 1999, under the auspices of the Federal Court of Australia, ALRI developed a judicial training project in partnership with the Australia-Indonesia Legal Development Foundation and the New South Wales Judicial Commission, with advisory support from the Centre for Democratic Institutions. The training program involved judges from all jurisdictions in Jakarta and from regional centres. Numerous workshops have been conducted since, covering diverse areas of law and practice from human rights to alternative dispute resolution, from judicial decision-making to e-court technology. We have also conducted two three-week courses in Australia to enable groups of visiting Indonesian judges to gain a comparative understanding of the different systems, institutions and methods of practice.

In March 2002 the ad hoc Human Rights Court began trying crimes allegedly committed in East Timor in 1999. These hearings, and the establishment of the Court itself, were a deeply significant event. At the request of the Research and Development Centre of the Indonesian Supreme Court, ALRI has organised and supported human rights workshops for judges of the ad hoc Court, other judges, prosecutors and representatives from civil society.

ALRI also receives and implements requests from international institutions like the Asian Development Bank to undertake such activities as designing the terms of reference for an operational and organisational review of the Indonesian Public Prosecutors’ Service.

Working with the legislature

Political reforms in Indonesia in recent years have significantly enhanced the legislative functions of the Indonesian parliament. As a result a need to develop a comprehensive legislative drafting process emerged. ALRI has extensively developed and supported assistance to successfully draft coherent legislation, with appropriate strategies for enforcement and the inclusion of international humanitarian and human rights norms. We conduct workshops and seminars focussing on legislative needs identified by the Indonesian parliament and other relevant bodies. Pressing issues such as money-laundering and corruption have been explored.

Working with civil society

The Indonesian Judicial Watch Society (MaPPI), based at the University of Indonesia, has assumed the important role of monitoring the judiciary. In co-operation with the Society, ALRI organised and delivered a human rights education workshop aimed to enhance understanding of international human rights standards and to encourage participants to become actively involved in human rights monitoring. Since the workshop, 12 Indonesian provinces have been covered by MaPPI’s monitoring network.

Conclusion

Australians have long contributed to building, strengthening and aiding the stability of other nations who seek our support. We in turn benefit from continuous collaboration with experts and professionals in other societies and different cultures. Our efforts have been modest because we are constrained by limited funds. However, from these beginnings, we look forward to continuing to work with our Indonesian friends to achieve the rule of law, democracy and human rights required to provide a decent social order for the Indonesian people.

The Hon Justice Marcus Einfeld is the chair of Australian Legal Resources International.

Inside Indonesia 75: Jul - Sep 2003

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