Reports indicate that under the Criminal Procedure Code, the Indonesian Advocate’s Code of Ethics (Law No. 18 of 2003), the Law on Human Rights (No. 39 of 1999) and Law on Judicial Power (No. 14 of 1970), all capital defendants are entitled to an attorney immediately upon arrest and throughout the prosecution, and attorneys are obliged to provide free legal assistance to poor defendants. The Code of Criminal Procedure specifically provides that defendants facing the death penalty must be assigned legal counsel by the official concerned “at all stages of examination in the criminal justice process.”

In practice, these rights are often not respected, especially during investigation and pre-trial stages, and thus a fair trial may not be guaranteed. In 2004, Amnesty International reported that some defendants are denied representation during clemency proceedings and in the week before execution. There were more recent reports from Papua that defendants did not have access to attorneys of their choosing and that authorities denied them adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense. Police and guards may restrict attorneys’ access to their clients, coercing bribes to allow defendants their legal rights.

In 2012, British national Lindsay Sandiford, who faced drug smuggling charges and was later sentenced to death, was appointed three different Indonesian lawyers, none of whom reportedly provided her with effective representation. Her first lawyer, appointed by the Indonesian police, allegedly stole money from her and made no effort to investigate her case or represent her interests in police interrogations. She was also unrepresented during at least two early court hearings because she was unable to pay for a lawyer herself.

Some NGO lawyer associations are effective at providing representation to indigents where to partially compensate for the failures of the legal aid system. In 2011, Jakarta Legal Aid handled 959 cases altogether.


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