Idul fitri has passed, many interesting stories during the gathering with the extended family during the Eid moments, one of which must be curious about the profession and work of each family member. And when I say that my profession is an advocate or lawyer, many brothers (especially those who have never touched law at all, and only know the profession of lawyers from the media) immediately smiled sarcastically, saying “oh the one who usually justifies wrong and blames the right”.
That the advocate profession is still limited to right / wrong as well as lose / win is a general view created by the perception that has been built because the public is often treated to drama cases of law through the mainstream media. Advocates are always identified with the clients they represent. Even though article 18 paragraph (2) of Law No. 18/2003 on Advocates states that in essence, in carrying out their profession, an advocate is not identical with a client, but still the slanted label on the advocate will be attached to the advocate who defends the interests of the client who is considered a criminal.
Advocates of corruption = corruptors, Advocates of murderers = defenders of criminals, Advocates of human rights violators = violators of human rights, this often sounds loud even among activists who should understand the rights and obligations of the profession. Still fresh in my mind when Adnan Buyung Nasution decided to defend Anas Urbaningrum, Gayus Tambunan, or Tubagus Chaeri Wardhana, who were considered corruptors. A lot of harsh criticism and scorn went up to the senior advocate who died in 2015. This is inseparable from the inherent image of Bang Buyung as a human rights defender and anti-corruption. Although unfair, this label is part of an advocate’s challenge to explain that no matter how bad a citizen is, he still has legal rights.
Apart from being part of law enforcement, the advocate profession also indirectly has the obligation to provide legal education to people who do not understand the law. Advocates together with judges, prosecutors and police (also the KPK) have a social responsibility towards legal education for the community. That all societies are equal before the law should not be the responsibility of academics alone. Currently, social responsibility for understanding the law of society is neglected, thus placing the law in an elite environment. This is what gives rise to a joke “in Indonesia, don’t get into legal trouble, or health if you want to live in peace”. This condition is exacerbated by the quality of law enforcement in Indonesia, which is considered to be full of mafia practices. Case after case of organized crime involving law enforcers (judges, prosecutors, police, advocates) and even constitutional enforcers are also included in the vicious circle of crimes.
Becoming an advocate shouldn’t just be analyzing cases, looking for strategies to win them. But being an advocate means taking responsibility for providing legal education to the public. Great advocates will be able to make people who are unfamiliar with legal issues understand, so that not all legal problems must be resolved through a narrow space called a court.
This article is actually a reminder to myself that it turns out that the task of being an advocate is still far from a big goal as a structure in the legal system in Indonesia. Gradually we must be able to bring people to be more literate in the law through competence as an advocate. Providing an understanding that everyone has the right to justice before the law even though he is a criminal is a tough thing, but it is not impossible. Shifting people’s perceptions about the image of an advocate is not just about defending those who pay, towards aspects of professionalism because lawsuits are also not an easy matter. No matter how hard it must be done, because the image of law in Indonesia depends on the concern of law enforcers to provide legal education through the profession they live in.
In the end, we can only hope that society will no longer be afraid of dealing with the law. At a minimum, they know how to take advantage of the services of an advocate when it comes to dealing with criminal, civil and administrative law.