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
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
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.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in
120 countries worldwide