Thirteen NGO activists from eight provinces throughout Indonesia joined paralegal training organized by the Wahid Institute from 24-27 February in Jakarta.
“The program is designed to challenge anti-pluralism and anti-democracy movements in the country, either those sponsored by the state or by distinct groups,” Wahid Institute executive director Ahmad Suaedy told the participants of the training on Friday (24/3/06).
“We will provide advocacy for people who have suffered from this anti-pluralistic behavior,” he added.
The training will focus on two things. The first is monitoring. Wahid Institute will collect data on pluralism and conduct research on the implementation of pluralism in several regions in Indonesia particularly those related to the regional autonomy law and regional election. The second is to produce legal draft to counter the anti pluralist law.
The training, part of programs on legislation and monitoring on pluralism, is organized by Wahid Institute and the Asia Foundation. The thirteen NGO activists who joined the training were: Yusri (Dikti Muhammadiyah, NAD), Tgk Taufiq (RTA NAD), Marzuki Rais (Fahmina Cirebon) Daden Sukendar (Fahmina Sukabumi), Mujtaba Hamdi (Majalah Syir’ah, Jakarta) Julianti (JIMM Jakarta), Anggie (Fatayat NU Jakarta), Naya Amin (Labda Yogyakarta), Nurkhalik Ridwan (LKiS Yogyakarta), Paring W Utomo (Puspek Averroes Malang), Andrey (Lakpesdam Surabaya), Subair Umam (Lapar Makassar) and Samsul Patinjo (LKPMP Makassar).
Other activities being held during the program included evaluating the result of the previous meeting, formulating action plan for the month ahead and drawing clear distinction between jobs handled by the Wahid Institute and those handled by local NGOs.
Speakers at the forum were Rival Ghulam Ahmad of Center Study of Law and Policy (PSHK), Uli Parulian Sihombing, Director of legal aid foundation (LBH Jakarta) and Anas Saidi (senior researcher at the Indonesian Science Institute (LIPI Jakarta).
Chief organizer of the program Rumadi said the training program aimed to strengthen public advocacy. Participants were briefed on how to negotiate with power holder and how to challenge discriminatory regulations.
“We could only voice disapproval on discriminatory laws from the outside the arena either because we do not know about the substance law or we do not know how get inside the process of creating laws,” he said.
Participants at the training program said the training is a useful forum to improve the knowledge of the participants regarding paralegal issue. “The training is important for us to find critical issue on certain regulation used by those who are against pluralism,” said Nur Khaliq Ridwan of Lkis Jogjakarta.
Another participant, Mujtaba Hamdi, of Syirah magazine, said discriminatory act was often caused by monopolistic interpretation of law and regulation by a certain group. “I still can not understand why the joint decree No. 1 1969 is on (o requirement for establishing the place for prayer) is diametrical position against the constitution,” he remarked.
On the second day of the program participants were drilled on how to draft legal products. Trainer on legal drafting Rival Gulam Ahmad said the training program was designed to give participants knowledge on the process and procedures for making a law and to equip them on how to make alternative proposals that adopt pluralism.
“The most important thing is we must have expertise to draft a law,” he said.
According Rival there are two main processes that occur during creation of new law: the first is legislation process and the second is the drafting of law itself. “There are five stages in the legislation process: preparation and planning, deliberation, approval, enactment and evaluation”, he explained.
Of those processes the deliberation process is the most critical stage of all the five stages. “We have to play an active role during the process,” he said. “At this stage we may give input and submit relevant facts to the legislators. We may also to lobby legislators to support our proposals,” he explained.
Commenting to the legislation process, Paring W. Utomo said the pluralist activist will succeed in pushing their agenda only if they had political support. “We could not force them to accept our proposals if we do not have enough power,” said the activist of Averroes, Malang.
Rival shared Utomo’s view saying the legislation process reflects the dynamic in political struggle in this country. “The process can not be separated from political constellation in Indonesia,” he added.
He also commented on lack of justice in Indonesia. A law often creates more problems than it solves. “Often a peaceful society becomes a divided one after a new law is enacted,’ said.
When discussing the process of legal drafting, he emphasized the importance of an academic draft. “The academic draft has to be made to solve a problem in society,” he explained. The stages required for the formulation of a good academic legal draft are: identification of problem, explanation of the problem, formulation of a solution and drafting of regulation.
On the third day of the program, Uli Parulian Sihombing lectured participant on details of paralegal, its meaning, history and role in the society.
He defines paralegal as” a person having knowledge on legal issue( formal and material), having motivation, attitude as well as interests to educate people regarding their rights and facilitate and support the people to pursue their rights”.
For Uli everyone can become a paralegal be it a local leader, young man, union member, teacher, students and people from other profession,” he said.
Uli also has called on the participants to formulate strategic issue to be put forward in promoting pluralism and strategy to achieve it.
Commenting on the implementation of Islamic law in several regions in Indonesia he said at least three strategic issue are involved. First, the intervention of the state in religious affairs. Second, violation of the rights of minority and third, violation of civil rights.
Strategies to deal with the issue are: educating people regarding human tights law, pluralism, organizing elements in society, conducting executive review, legislative review, strengthening network, filing a class action lawsuit, taking legal standing ( asking the constitutional court to review a law). The Wahid Institute will take legal standing as it has to deal with the constitutional court which has office in Jakarta.
The forum is also used to draw action plan for the nine month ahead. Regional NGO will send the clipping and analyze anti pluralist cases in the region. They will also deal with those ecases.
The Wahid Institute will make quarterly analysis on what have been found by regional NGOs and announce the result to the media and partners. Wahid Institute will also publish annual report on the program it has done.