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How to handle public complaints - and improve the judiciary

Bogor, West Java (Indonesia), 21 June 2013
- In 2012, less than 600 of the more than 1,520 public complaints submitted to the Judicial Oversight Department, a government body in charge of overseeing Indonesia's judicial system, including selecting justices and supervising the Supreme Court, were dealt with by year's end.

To improve their public complaint-handling mechanisms, the Department asked UNODC, as part of the Strengthening Judiciary Integrity and Capacity in Indonesia Phase III project, to conduct a needs assessment to develop a set of recommendations for immediate implemention.

This assessment identified two key problem areas: workflow and technical implementation, and a lack of human resources. Following this, the Judicial Oversight Department and UNODC conducted a three-day Public Complaint Mechanism training, funded by the German government, for 50 officers to improve the Department's public services in Bogor, West Java. The two-part training focussed on handling public complaints and understanding the basic principles of good service.

Ms. Onni Rosleini, head of the Judicial Oversight Department of the Judicial Commission, noted the significant impact the training had on participants in handling public complaints.

"This is the first intensive training for the Department on public complaint-handling mechanisms," said Ms. Rosleini. "The training was very useful, broadened our knowledge, and perfectly accommodated our needs. We hope that assistance from UNODC will continue in the future."

Training topics included "Basic Understanding of the Judicial Code of Conduct", and "Code of Ethics for Public Complaint Handling Officers". One participant highlighted the importance of the different skill types taught throughout the training.

"Apart from the hard skills we learnt, the training also included soft skills strategy or communication psychology - something we we need when dealing with public complaints against the judiciary," said Rudiansyah, a Judicial Oversight Department staff member, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.

Calling it a successful initial effort, Mr. Troels Vester, newly appointed UNODC Indonesia Country Manager, said more work needed to be done.

"This was a good first step. The Judicial Oversight Department has very challenging work ahead and UNODC is delighted to assist and strengthen their capacity to handle - and respond effectively to - public complaints," said Mr. Vester.