Indonesia: Court finds internet ban in Papua and West Papua violates the law

The Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN) ruled the government internet ban in Papua and West Papua during the anti-racism protests in August and September 2019 was unlawful. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia welcome the court decision and remind the government of the importance of internet access during the unrest.

Indonesian activist hold a rally in front of the Ministry of Communication and Information office in Jakarta on August 23, 2019, demanding the government to unblock internet access to Papua and West Papua. Credit: DASRIL ROSZANDI / AFP

Three female judges, namely Chief Judge Nelvy Christin SH MH, judge Baiq Yuliani SH and Indah Mayasari SH MH delivered the decision on June 3. The lawsuit was filed by the Press Freedom Defender Team consisting of AJI Indonesia and six other advocacy groups in November 2019. One of the courts key findings noted the termination of internet access did not follow the human rights restrictions set out in the Constitution and several other human rights conventions. With the Jakarta PTUN ruling declaring the internet slowdown and shutdown as unlawful, it opens up the possibility for those aggrieved to sue for compensation.

The Indonesia government blocked internet access in August and September 2019 following the protests triggered by the arrest and discriminatory treatment of Papuan students in east Java. The government justified the blockade stating it would ‘accelerate the process of restoring the security and order situation in Papua and the surrounding areas.’ 

AJI said: “AJI appreciated the decision of the three female judges who were bravely taking human rights considerations into their decision. This is to prove that the government’s decision was wrong and AJI hopes they will not block the internet access anymore in the future.”

The IFJ said: “The Jakarta State Administrative Court decision reaffirms the values of freedom of expression that are central for upholding democracy in Indonesia. The IFJ urges the government to take note of the decision and end internet shutdowns in Papua and West Papua.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

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

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