Not long after the fall of president Soeharto in May 1998, a group of prominent lawyers and legal practioners established the Law and Policy Study Foundation (YSHK) just as the country's legal system demanded a massive and total overhaul.
The foundation now runs the highly respected online media forum Hukumonline.com, in addition to publishing journals and research and hosting regular seminars and symposiums.
Seventeen years later, the foundation's founders and activists have decided that it is time to take another major step in realizing the dream of creating a transparent, democratic and just system of law in Indonesia.
On Tuesday, the foundation officially launched the Indonesia Jentera School of Law (IJSL) and will receive its first students immediately. Last year, the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education issued an accreditation for the new school.
Its first dean is Yunus Husein, the former chief of the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK). The lecturers include former attorney general Marsillam Simanjuntak, former deputy Cabinet secretary Erman Radjagukguk and former KPK commissioner Bambang Widjojanto. Its campus is located in Kuningan, South Jakarta.
"There are a lot of illicit practices such as transaction cases, bribery, gratuity, perjury, criminalization and indecent law interpretation that are committed by lawmakers, law enforcers and legal practitioners," Erry Riyana Hardjapamekas, one of the founders, said on Tuesday.
The former commissioner of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said the new school's presence came about as a result of the accumulation of concern among practitioners and activists over rampant corruption and legal abuse in the country.
Erry believed that the school would be able to produce law graduates of high integrity and morals to clean up the country's corrupt law enforcement practices.
"Countries able to effectively perceive and prevent corruption, like those in Scandinavia, are countries with good education systems," he said.
He went on to say that the school expects to create various legal professionals who are not only ready for work, but are also ready to bring about changes to Indonesia in all aspects such as lawmaking, law enforcement and the execution of law.
Yunus said that he had yet to find a school of law in Indonesia that emphasised democracy and anti-corruption in its curriculum. "By far, schools of law in Indonesia only reproduce knowledge from educators to students. They have not been able to offer something new."
The school's deputy dean, Bivitri Susanti, said law schools needed to teach students critical thinking and develop learning based on real cases.
"Students learn more from discussions than in one-way teaching. Classes are conducted on an equal footing so that students can think critically and the ratio of lecturers to students is one to 20 so that discussions will be effective and inclusive," the law magistrate from Britain's University of Warwick said.
When asked if the school demanded special qualifications or character requirements from its students, Bivitri replied, "There is no special criteria. We will shape it through education."
The school offers Jentera scholarships for newly graduated senior high school students. The Munir Said Thalib Scholarship, named after the murdered human rights activist, is available to activists who have made a real contribution to their society.