It was only four weeks ago that two young Australian law graduates, Hannah Figueroa and Jeremy Hutton, touched down in Jakarta to begin a month-long internship at the Legal Aid Institute Jakarta (LBH Jakarta). They undertook their placements as part of the Australian Consortium of In-Country Indonesian Studies Legal Professional Practicum 2018. However, with their time in Indonesia now coming to an end and with a chance to reflect, both agree that the experience has been highly rewarding.
Working under the supervision of Alldo Felix Januardy and Aditya Megantara, Hannah, a law graduate from the University of New South Wales, was tasked with writing a policy brief to be sent to the Ministry of Law and Human Rights and to the Immigration Office recommending that the Indonesian government abolish asylum-seeker and refugee child detention. She also drafted up a technical guidance for LBH Jakarta’s international campaign management system. “It is encouraging to know that LBH Jakarta gives its interns the opportunity to carry out projects that contribute towards the organisation’s priority areas as well as its strategic planning and future development,” Hannah said.
Jeremy, an undergraduate at the Australian National University, worked under Khaerul Anwar and Jeanny Sirait to create a comprehensive fundraising strategy aimed at expanding LBH Jakarta’s financial support to international donors in order to ensure greater legal assistance is provided to cross-border victims of human rights abuses. He also conducted research into the right of trial in Indonesia in relation to the admissibility of evidence obtained through the use of torture in police investigations. “Working across the Human Rights and International Campaign divisions was challenging, deeply engaging and highly constructive to my personal and professional development,” he said.
There is a genuine interest in LBH Jakarta to make your internship a worthwhile, valuable one. They were able to attend a pre-trial session on a torture case at a local district court, and visited Ciliwung Merdeka, MaPPi FHUI (Indonesian Judiciary Monitoring Society), LBH Masyarakat and the Health, Education and Learning Program (HELP) for refugees, in order to meet and discuss with prominent experts on human rights and social justice issues such as Sandyawan Sumardi, Choky Ramadhan, Yohan Misero, Veronica Koman, and Trish Cameron.
“Having the opportunity to meet Mr Sandyawan Sumardi (an expert on the issue of forced eviction), was one of the highlights of my time at LBH. I visited Mr Sumardi’s office with my supervisors and interviewed him about his work defending villages from being forcefully evicted. Showing us footage of a particular village’s attempt to rally popular support for their struggle through drama performances was both inspiring and heart-breaking,” Jeremy said.
“These opportunities were extremely valuable for me, as someone who wants to widen and deepen my connections and networks with local and international actors, colleagues and peers engaged in human rights advocacy and work in the country,” said Hannah.
In order to get a better understanding of the situation with respect to asylum seekers and refugees, Alldo, as one of the very few refugee lawyers in the country, gave them the opportunity to sit-in on his interview sessions with refugees requesting the services of LBH Jakarta for their legal issues. He also gave them the opportunity to visit the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office to learn more about the Refugee Status Determination process in Indonesia. They were given a tour of the interview rooms and witnessed many refugees waiting in line outside and sleeping in tents on the road.
Hannah said that sitting in the lawyer-client interviews, and visiting the UNHCR office she learnt so much about the operation of law, policy and the legal system in Indonesia’s social and cultural context, and the importance of LBH Jakarta’s continued inclusiveness, accessibility and pursuit for justice and accountability.
Between working on their assigned tasks and meeting human rights advocates, the two have been able create conceptual and practical connections between LBH Jakarta and other organisations and – more broadly – between Australian and Indonesian societies and their legal systems.
For Hannah, an internship at LBH Jakarta has sown the seeds of forming transformational as opposed to transaction networks and experiences. She hopes that her affiliation with LBH Jakarta will not merely be one-off but, rather, marks the start of further professional relationships and partnerships.
Similarly, Jeremy said that he has been proud to work for an organisation so tirelessly dedicated to achieving positive outcomes for cross-border victims of human rights abuses, and “while I am sad that this experience is coming to an end, I know that the friendships I have formed here will continue into the future.”
“At LBH Jakarta you are encouraged to consider one’s responsibilities to one’s community and world, and to think in terms of collaboration and commonalities rather than differences and divisions.”
Hannah and Jeremy wish to thank Alldo, Aditya, Jeanny, Angga, and Aldo Kotan, and all the staff and lawyers at the LBH Jakarta for their wholehearted support and guidance throughout their placement. The big smiles, office banter, and afternoon jam sessions will be sorely missed!