IFJ Fears Internet Law Threatens Free Press in Indonesia



The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) in expressing alarm at the threat to free media presented by Indonesia’s Information and Electronic Transactions Act.


AJI, an IFJ affiliate, has joined forces with other Indonesian free speech groups and Indonesian bloggers to challenge the Act (Law No 11 of 2008).


AJI reports that some articles in the law, which is usually used to regulate pornographic content and gambling on internet publications, present a real and immediate threat to Indonesia’s free press in the scope for interpretation.


Article 27(3) contains an attack on freedom of speech and the press by making it an offence to deliberately publish (electronically) anything containing “insulting or defamatory materials”:


(3) Every Person deliberately and without right distributes and/or transmits and/or enables access to an Electronic Information and/or Electronic Document containing insulting or defamatory materials.


Any person held in breach of this article faces potential prosecution by the police, up to six years’ jail and/or a fine of up to 2 billion rupiahs (about US$180,000). 


The IFJ joins AJI and the Advocacy Team for Freedom of Expression in Indonesia in calling for the immediate repeal of the law, and strongly supports a legal challenge filed with Indonesia’s Constitutional Court.


The challenge has been mounted by a group of plaintiffs represented by the Advocacy Team for Freedom of Expression in Indonesia. The aim is to have the article struck down as dangerously vague and uncertain and antithetical to the principles of democracy underlying Indonesia’s Constitution.  


“The long struggle against Indonesia’s criminal defamation laws has seen some successes,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.


“However, the effect of the Information and Electronic Transactions Act will have a draconian impact and override some of those successes, and so must be countered.” 


For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919


The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide