Toespraak minister Grapperhaus 50 jaar juridische samenwerking Nederland Indonesië

Toespraak van minister Grapperhaus bij de viering van 50 jaar juridische samenwerking tussen Nederland en Indonesië op 17 oktober 2019 in Den Haag. De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Indonesian fables are known the world over. I read them when I was child. The magic of those stories has always stayed with me, but so have the horrors faced by the main characters. There’s a reason that fables evolve, and the horrors they portray also happen in real life.

I was deeply shocked to hear about the attack on Indonesia’s chief security minister Wiranto. I’m hoping for his speedy recovery. I recall, after all, that even gruesome  fables often have a happy ending….

Take the story of Sukun, or, in Dutch: Soe-oene.  1 day, before leaving home to work in the fields, Sukun’s parents tell his older brother and sister that if they get hungry they should eat a breadfruit. But the word for breadfruit is also Sukun! And, yes, you’ve guessed it, the older children get hungry and start to eat their little brother. But when they find the real breadfruit and realise their mistake, they’re very sorry about what they’ve done. When their parents return home, they’re so outraged that they stuff the children in a basket and throw them in the river. The children manage to escape and have all kinds of adventures, but of course their parents don’t know this. They’re left behind, consumed with regret and sorrow.

But everything works out in the end. During their wanderings the children kill a tree spirit and gain superhuman powers. They use their powers to bring Sukun back to life and, with the 3 of them, they return to their parents. You can imagine the surprise of the parents; they are overcome with happiness. All their problems are overcome and they end up happier than ever.

And that’s my dream for relations between Indonesia and the Netherlands: that they will become better than ever before. When it comes to building a fruitful, harmonious relationship, all of you here in this room today are trailblazers.

50 years ago, the Netherlands and Indonesia set up a foundation to facilitate bilateral cooperation in the areas of legal research and development of the law. And for fifty years the Supreme Courts of the Netherlands and Indonesia have used it as basis for their partnership.

In the face of ongoing national and international political controversy, you have persevered in your efforts to strengthen the Indonesian legal system. Working together on legislation was an obvious choice. Because of our shared history we also share legal DNA. But the exchange of knowledge and experience went beyond that: from organising traffic law enforcement to fighting corruption.

Your Corruption Eradication Commission deserves a special mention. It is an important partner in the worldwide battle against corruption and deserves high praise for its courage and persistence.  

Our partnership in this area is now facilitated by the Center for International Legal Cooperation. 1 of the objectives of that partnership has been to arrange student exchanges and knowledge sharing. That, too, has been a success. Every year there are around 1,400 Indonesian students in the Netherlands, and most are here to study business and economics. Leiden University alone has some 600 Indonesian alumni.

Many of them have gone on to serve politics, like Sutan Sjahrir, the first prime minister of Indonesia. Others have devoted themselves to the promotion of human rights, such as women’s rights activist Maria Ulfah Santoso.

And today there are Indonesian alumni of Dutch universities who hold high office, such as Retno Marsudi, Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Hilmar Farid, Director-General for Culture at the Ministry of Education and Culture. It gives is pride that that is where they are mnow and that we have made a contribution to their success.

Over the past 50 years Indonesia has become the largest economy in Southeast Asia, the only representative of the region in the G20 and the sixteenth-largest economy in the world. I am vastly impressed by those achievements.

Indonesia ranks 73rd in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report 2018. I firmly believe that Indonesia’s economic achievements have everything to do with your efforts in the legal sphere.

Let me take a step back here. As you know, I am the minister of Justice and Security. There is a reason for this combination of duties. As I see it, the main theme of the rule of law is justice. But justice is an empty shell if it does not go alongside with security. Justice and security; they are twin concepts.

Derived from that is legal certainty and that is the basis of economic success.We need to realise that and promote and export that notion as much as we can. The countries that score highest in the annual Rule of Law Index are consistently the world’s most prosperous countries.

That is no coincidence. Entrepreneurs and investors want legal certainty and a level playing field. They will only be willing to take calculated risks if there are clear rules and a guarantee that those rules will be applied. And to achieve that, there has to be a predictable, efficient and reliable judicial system in place.

That’s where you come in, the trailblazers of this cooperation. But the rule of law isn’t just important for the economy. It is a requirement for happiness. It is the foundation which allows people to live in freedom and dignity and to achieve their full potential. But for that to happen, people must have access to justice. They need to know their rights and be able to exercise them. That’s a challenge, both in your country and in mine. The international community took up this urgent challenge and incorporated it into the Sustainable Development Goals.

SDG 16 calls upon every country to promote peace, justice and strong institutions. And SDG target 16.3 obliges us to pursue that goal by ensuring equal access to justice for all. That is an enormous task. Around 1 billion people have no access to justice at all. And there is room for improvement in almost every country. Including the Netherlands.

To improve access to justice we must first reach out to society, connect with people and start a dialogue about people’s concerns. When the public are involved in the law-making process, They get more connected, more engaged. And in the end laws are better and more relevant.

We do this through a system of public consultation: we post draft legislation on the internet and encourage the public to weigh in. We are working hard to broaden the reach of these sites. We are also trying to raise awareness among young people through education. We encourage them to participate in the debate on social issues and make their voices heard. At times the exchange of views can be heated, but that’s a good thing.

The rule of law is a precious asset, and not one we can take for granted. We have to work on it and we have to see to it that it is maintained properly.

I’m pleased with Dutch-Indonesian cooperation in this area under the MOUs of 2015 and 2018. The Netherlands wholeheartedly supports the community schools of justice, where women learn about their rights and how to exercise them. We also assist judicial institutions, for example through training on applying case law. And we’re helping to improve the security of vulnerable groups and individuals in Indonesia.   

Ladies and gentlemen,

The road to equal access to justice for all is long and difficult. But perhaps we can draw comfort from the experience of Sukun’s family. Compared to the horror that they endured, the challenges we now face are within our power to solve. And the rewards will be huge, for you and for us.

Indonesia deserves an economic status that’s in keeping with the size of its population. I hope we can continue working together productively, so that the people of Indonesia and the Netherlands can all enjoy legal certainty and live in freedom and prosperity.

When that day comes, it’ll feel like Sukun has come home.

Thank you.