Indonesia: Revision of criminal code threatens to suppress press freedom

At least 10 articles in the revised draft bill of criminal code threaten freedom of the press and freedom of expression, including defamation against the president and vice president, contempt of court, religious defamation, and disbursing of false news. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia call on the government and House of Representative to halt their plan to pass the law.

Credit: AJI

The decision to maintain these articles shows that the authorities are simply ignoring recommendations from key stakeholders. The draft also contains articles on insulting the president and vice president. It is a step-back for the democracy as such articles were removed by the Constitution Court from the draft bill in 2006. In addition to that, the draft also has added the article on contempt of court which will impact the media.

AJI together with the Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers) has condemned the draft of the bill which will suppress the freedom of the press. Continuing the discussion to pass the law will not produce a bill which in line with the democracy and the protection of the press freedom.

“Defamation articles can be used to incriminate press and journalists. Those articles are against the spirit of Press Law which guarantee that the journalists can work freely. We also demand the House and the government to drop the articles 281 because it will hinder the media to criticise the performance or the integrity of judges,” AJI said.

The IFJ said: “We strongly criticize the moves by the Indonesian government to ignore the recommendations from key media stakeholders and take these revisions forward. We urge the authorities related with this matter to reconsider the bill and hold the plan to pass the law.”

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

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