Indonesia: House to pass controversial Criminal Code

The House of Representatives is due to pass the revised Criminal Code, which has been widely criticised for violating press freedom and access to information. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia demand the House halt the bill and not use the current health crisis and lockdown as an opportunity to secure the passage of the Criminal Code.

Indonesian students hold a protest against the government's proposed change in its criminal code laws and plans to weaken the anti-corruption commission, outside the parliament building in Jakarta on September 24, 2019. Credit: Adek Berry/AFP

On April 2, the House deputy speaker Azis Syamsuddin, who is also a member of the House Commission III which oversees the legal affairs, said that the leaders of the Commission III have requested a week to deliberate the bill before they hand the revisions to the plenary session.

Deliberations on the bill were halted last year after massive protests by human rights and press freedom activists, as well as thousands of students through Indonesia. With opposition to the bill, President Joko Widodo announced that the passing of the bill would be postponed.

Based on a review conducted by AJI and the Indonesian Television Journalists Association (IJTI), there are at least 10 articles which will threaten the press freedom, including Article 219 on defamation against the President and Vice President, Article 241 on defamation of the government and Article 262 on the spread of false information.

AJI, in a joint statement with IJTI, have urged the House and the government to halt the bill, particularly during the Covid-19 outbreak, arguing it is better for the House and the government to fully concentrate on tackling the pandemic.

“The bill will be discussed without public participation since it is hard to mobilise the public during the Covid-19 health emergency where social movement is restricted. Any moves by the House and the government will go unchecked,” AJI added.

The IFJ said: “The IFJ is concerned that the House is using the lockdown period as an opportunity to push this restrictive bill through. In this current health crisis it is important that the government postpones the revisions of the critically important Criminal Code until a time when open and transparent discussions are possible.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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