From The Field: Bringing Practical Legal Skills To Local Communities Across Indonesia

November 26, 2018
Participants at JWB’s training in Lampung Timur, Indonesia.

Justice Without Borders (JWB) embarked on a three-month training campaign across Indonesia. We trained over 160 community-based paralegals who are dedicated volunteers going above and beyond to support migrant worker victims with their claims.

This training was a part of JWB’s long-term capacity building programme for six partner organisations in five regencies, including Blitar, East Lampung, South Lampung, Ponorogo and Cilacap. These regencies are located in the top five home provinces by population of workers heading abroad to other countries in Asia. Remittances from their salaries support their families, build savings, and secure their children’s educational futures.

JWB covered a large range of home regencies in our latest training campaign, adding to our reach across Indonesia.

When vulnerable workers face exploitation or even abuse abroad, however, neither they nor community paralegals at home have been equipped to pursue justice against their abusers. These groups often have no access to practical legal knowledge and no connections to host country community organisations or lawyers. Those who abuse workers thus often escape responsibility and continue to act with impunity.

FROM INITIAL TRAINING TO LONG-TERM SUPPORT

To help address this critical gap in access to justice, JWB’s training programmes are structured to systematically and sustainably deepen each local community’s capacity to assist migrant workers. We identify partner organisations in key locations all over Indonesia that have the potential to manage cross-border cases, then provide support to develop their capacity to help victims effectively.

“Paralegals form one of the key elements in access to justice in Indonesia, because there is a limited number of lawyers embedded in local communities and an enormous number of cases requiring legal assistance,” said JWB’s Head of Indonesia Office, Sri Aryani.

“Through these trainings, we aim to both raise the effectiveness of legal assistance provided by community paralegals, and improve access to justice in general in these regions. We want workers to be able to come home but not go without,” she added.

The first stage of JWB’s programme is giving basic training in civil claims and evidence collection to partner organisations. These trainings cover common legal violations endured by migrant workers, and the corresponding legal remedies available both at home and abroad. JWB emphasises that, contrary to popular belief, cross-border claims can be pursued through the regional civil litigation networks that we and others are building.

The second stage of the programme is a hands-on practicum at JWB’s Case Clinic for Migrant Workers. These clinics help paralegals practice their skills on real cases with JWB’s close guidance. Paralegals acquire a  much stronger hands-on understanding of how to better manage cases that migrant workers bring, whether through local remedies or in partnership with JWB on cross-border claims.

JWB is currently implementing this multi-tiered strategy of training and mentoring across Indonesia, building existing partnerships while simultaneously identifying new potential partners in different regions. Our goal is to elevate our partners to more sophisticated levels of technical knowledge, ability and capacity that will empower them to assist on any and all cases brought to them by their migrant worker clients.

FROM THE FIELD: COMMUNITY PARALEGALS TRAINED IN JAVA AND SUMATRA

For many in local communities, JWB’s trainings are the first formalised trainings that paralegals receive.

One paralegal expressed her gratitude to JWB for how the training session had directly benefited her family, saying, “I am very thankful for the opportunity to be trained by Justice Without Borders, as I am now able to understand my husband’s case better regarding the issue of his employment contract with his employer.”

JWB’s post-training activities include case consultations with our Indonesia team.

JWB’s outreach activities are always accompanied by long-term support. Whether providing direct case consultations, helping organisations improve their ability to manage complex cases or returning for more advanced skills trainings, JWB works to deepen participants’ skills in advancing cross-border access to justice for workers. More community paralegals trained in cross-border cases means that more victims will obtain compensation, bringing abusers to justice and helping victims recover.

JWB is incredibly thankful for support from our university partner, the University of Indonesia’s Faculty of Law, and our local community partners, Forum Warga Buruh Migran in Cilacap, Komunitas KOPI’s branches in Ponorogo and Blitar, Pertakina in Blitar, SBMI East Lampung and SBMI South Lampung.