Online Law Risks More Criminal Defamation in Indonesia


The International Federation

of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate,

the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI),

in expressing alarm about the potential negative impact of Indonesia’s 2008 Information and

Electronic Transactions Law on freedom of expression.


A regional seminar on August 13,

organised by AJI under the theme Online Defamation and

Freedom of Expression in South-East Asia, focused on the implications of the Indonesian law

for increased risk of criminal defamation charges against journalists for

online content. The law was notionally introduced to regulate online business



Lawyer Jim Nolan, representing

the IFJ at the seminar, said the law

could be used as a tool for political censorship.


“This has happened in authoritarian countries where governments have made

online defamation laws because they were worried about the free political

discussions on the Internet,” Nolan



Nolan also expressed concern at the possibility that any journalist whose

work is judged defamatory by a court could be imprisoned for one year. If the

same report appeared online, an

additional six-year sentence could be imposed under the Information and

Electronic Transactions Law.


Defamation and libel charges against media workers in Indonesia can

be filed under Articles 311 and 317 of the Criminal Code as well as the civil

Press Law.


Criminal defamation and libel cases continue to be filed

despite a 2005 Supreme Court decision to set jurisprudence of the Press Law for

the settlement of all media disputes.


AJI has campaigned strongly for complaints against the media

to be dealt with under the Press Law, rather than the Criminal Code.


“The Information and Electronic Transactions Law may be intended to protect

online banking transactions, but it

contains major flaws that risk impeding the much needed shift away from

criminalisation of defamation and libel in Indonesia,”

IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline

Park said.



Government must take every action to remove regulatory action against the media

from its criminal system.”


The IFJ joins AJI in calling for an immediate review of the potential

detrimental effect of the Information and Electronic Transactions Law on Indonesia’s

press freedom status.


For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919



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