Jenitza Castro is interning in Indonesia with the International Justice Initiative (IJI) based out of the “Universitas Pelita Harapan” (UPH), a Christian Law School at which a Regent alumnus, Pat Talbot, is a law professor. IJI focuses on a number of human rights issues, including combating sex trafficking.
|Law Faculty of Universitas Pelita Harapan
I am writing my last blog post from Indonesia, and just like that I am wrapping up a life changing experience. This internship was an incredible avenue for me to learn and practice under the guidance of two knowledgeable supervisors and advocates. One of the most valuable experiences I had was to observe these professionals carrying themselves in their day-to-day affairs. This internship provided me with high quality training and it has enriched my writing and research skills.
Lippo Karawaci, Indonesia.
As I explained on my last blog post, the International Justice Initiative (IJI) is preparing a legal tool kit to serve judges, lawyers, law enforcement, and civil servants to find relevant provisions for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of human trafficking. I was given the opportunity to conduct comprehensive legal research and summarize International Conventions. I further helped supervise a team of interns summarizing domestic laws. These legal summaries will be compiled in the form of a book and handbook that will be distributed for training. Nonetheless, my work in Indonesia went beyond research on Human Trafficking Law. IJI often collaborates with the Indonesian Christian Legal Society (ICLS), an organization that works to encourage, equip, and support Christian lawyers in a majority Muslim country. Through my work with ICLS, I was given the opportunity to have field experience in other kinds of Human Rights Law.
For example, I had the opportunity to collaborate with ICLS in Malang, Indonesia. After a 2-hour flight to the east side of Java, Indonesia, we drove to a women’s prison where the team met to collaborate with a prison ministry from a church in Jakarta, Indonesia. The prison ministry went to support Christian inmates who had been transferred from Jakarta to Malang. ICLS got the opportunity to serve some of them who needed legal advice. We learned how to serve those who are spiritually hungry in prisons and at the same time offer legal aid as inmates navigate a justice system that is weak and costly.
The next day we made our way to the men’s prison where we met the elder of a church accused of homicide and sentenced to death. The elder spent 7 years in prison awaiting his execution date. However, a few months ago another individual confessed to the crime for which the elder had been convicted. The offender was prosecuted and convicted; therefore, the elder promptly petitioned the Supreme Court of Justice to release him. Unfortunately, his petition was denied.
The process to appeal the decision and obtain acquittal operates through numerous steps and there is usually long delays between one stage and the next. The main issue is that the President of Indonesia released the names of 14 people whom will be soon executed. Four of those have been already executed and no one knows the names included in the list until the inmates are transferred for execution. ICLS is seeking domestic and international support to request the President not to execute this elder — as it is apparent that he is innocent. I had the privilege of participating in the pertinent interviews and drafting a letter requesting international support.
Bromo, Indonesia + Batu, Indonesia
After two days of intense work in Malang we drove up to Bromo. Bromo is a volcanic mountain situated in the Tengger caldera and home to the Tengger tribe. In 2015 the volcano’s dust covered the land, and since then the villagers haven’t been able to do agriculture work because the plantation was destroyed by the thick dust. Tourism has been limited as well. This impacted the tribe’s income and food supply, and the tribes are in desperate need of attention and support from the government. However, poor management, corruption, and religious discrimination is affecting the Christian villagers who receive the little attention, if not are completely ignored. ICLS advocates are working in the region to bring attention to the Christian groups and to find funds to buy rice. We conducted interviews and supported the ICLS team in Bromo. We ended our trip with a visit to Batu, Indonesia where we met with other lawyers and encouraged them to join the ICLS team.
Finally, I was asked to go to Singapore and meet with the Mercy Center, an organization working with women in the red light district of Singapore, and with Hagar, a legal team that helps investigate and prosecute crimes of human trafficking. This visit served to enhance my understanding of the “modus operandis” of perpetrators. They explained that there is a large incidence of Indonesian victims to sex trafficking in Singapore. Mercy Center suggests that poverty is one of the primary factors that make victims vulnerable to prostitution and sex trafficking. And Hagar suggests that the falsification of documents is a primary factor contributing to the movement of Indonesian victims to Singapore.
As you might imagine, all of these experiences helped me grow as an individual and as a professional. Realistically, it will require many blog posts to thoroughly explain all the experiences I lived through in the past two months. Nonetheless, I hope these lines help encourage you and remind you that the work international advocates are doing in Indonesia is not in vain. I will be ever grateful to those who supported and made possible my participation in this internship.
As one of the ICLS advocates stated: “[We want] to inspire young law students and lawyers…to bring support, and make justice and compassion stand in the darkest of places.”
Kindly, keep of all of these organizations in your prayers.
For more information on the work that Mercy Center and Hagar are doing to stop human trafficking please click on the following links:
For more information regarding issues regarding death penalty executions in Indonesia you might be interested to read the following article:
Thank you for your prayers and support.
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student intern. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.