Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children, visited PUSKAPA at Universitas Indonesia, Depok, on Thursday, March 29th, 2018. Before sharing global lessons to the audience in our Learning Series, Marta made time to meet CSO Alliance to discuss the current development of child protection advocacy. PUSKAPA, together with UNICEF, MaPPI (Indonesia Judiciary Monitoring Society), KPI (Indonesian Women’s Coalition), Jentera Law School, and Elsam (Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy) attended the meeting in PUSKAPA’s office. Every organization has its work, expertise, and concerns which are expressed in the discussion.
Child Marriage was one of the issue brought up to the table by KPI, who has been working to end child marriage, advocating from both sub-national and national level. The effort to raise child minimum age for marriage was challenged in Constitutional Court, as child protection law was not enough as a reason. To resolve this issue, Marta presented lessons learned from Africa, in which disincentives were used for people who enable child marriage, such as expelling marriage registrars. On the other hand, KPI’s work in West Java also found that financial incentives push religious leaders to solemnized child marriages. Champions in each institution are also needed who have the potential in bringing changes in their own institutions.
Participants in the meeting expressed its concerns over Criminal Code Bill’s legal substances, especially when it discriminates people without legitimate marriage and children. Marta particularly concerned about the criminalization of extramarital relations which possibly stigmatizing many families who are not legally bound by legitimate marriage. It will emphasize social exclusion and label bad families, putting children in even more vulnerable situation, while Indonesia already moves forward to ensure access to justice for all. Aside from that, Jentera Law School acknowledged good progress in the Bill, such as accommodating alternative mechanism to prisons and elimination of death penalty.
In the Learning Series event, Marta Santos emphasized the importance of Indonesia’s current Juvenile Justice Law (JJL) to ensure that children who are dealing with the law can go through a fair process. Law enforcement officials should have been provided with sufficient knowledge to handle child cases without neglecting their rights. Besides JJL, the event also talked about Indonesia’s Criminal Code Bill and how its ratification needs to be delayed, and there needs to be a platform to record and share all its discussions in a transparent manner to the public. About 110 participants from government institutions, universities, and research and advocacy centers, public, and media attended the Learning Series.
Both the meeting and the Learning Series event were very useful to let us understand global perspective on how we should ensure child’s rights in our criminal justice system, and constructive step forwards. Marta delivered her support for our moves through her statement, “To ensure child protection in the justice system, we need to provide sufficient laws and clarity of its provisions to the public. We should stay away from lack of conformity and consider the cost for society. Confusion in the minds of the people will not be helpful for Indonesia.” She emphasized the importance of continuous learning and developing evidence to support the government.
With her presence, we realized that the concerns for child well-being are equally shared around the world, and international communities readily support its fulfillment.