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Masterclass ‘Access to Justice in Indonesian frontier area’

On 6 September 2018 Jacqueline Vel of the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society organised a master class on ‘Access to Justice’ at the invitation of the Wira Wacana Christian University in Waingapu, Sumba, Indonesia.

During this masterclass  a group of the local university’s lecturers of the law, development economics and management departments discussed how to use the analytical framework developed at the VVI for identifying main barriers to justice and find effective strategies for seeking remedy, in particular in the current water conflict in Sumba.

Sumba island can be considered as a ‘frontier area’ for the extractive industry. Recently one of the largest Indonesian business conglomerates established a huge sugarcane plantation on this island.  A major consequence for the local population is that the plantation is appropriating all water resources for irrigating sugarcane. The neighbouring village rice fields now lay fallow because of lack of water.  Without their own rice, villagers are forced to look for alternative employment, and casual jobs at the plantation is the only option.  What can these villagers do to protect their access to water and secure their livelihoods?  This is a very classic and urgent situation in which people need access to justice.  Characteristic of such frontier areas is that the local state institutions as well as civil society institutions are weak.  National or international activists and researchers can support local organisations in their efforts to protect local people’s rights and the environment. 

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