Indonesia: Media group alarmed at new threat to press freedom
The Jakarta-based Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) is deeply concerned that a recent law on the electronic media might pose a threat to press freedom in Indonesia.
This came after the filing of defamation charges against journalist Narliswandi Piliang by legislator Alvin Lie recently over Narliswandi's article, "Hoyak Tabuik Adaro dan Soekanto" (roughly translated: Behind Adaro Co.'s Lobbying in Parliament), which had been published in the Forum Pembaca Kompas (Kompas Readers' Forum) mailing list. If convicted, the journalist faces up to six years' imprisonment and a fine of Rp 1 billion.
Aside from defamation, Narliswandi was also charged with violation of Article 27 point (3) juncto Article 45 point (1) of the Law Number 11 Year 2008 on Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE).
AJI and several media groups said that this new law has the potential to silence the press through its defamation clauses, which are accompanied by jail terms and fine sanctions that are heavier than those stipulated in the Criminal Code.
AJI, along with LBH Pers (The Legal Aid Institute for the Press), the Indonesian Legal and Human Rights Aid (PBHI) and others are currently preparing a judicial review of the ITE Law due to what they claim are its numerous weaknesses.
Police also summoned on September 4 Agus Hamonangan, moderator of the said mailing list, to answer questions about Narliswandi's article, for questioning.
AJI, a founding member of SEAPA, said that although Agus remains a witness to the case, he might probably be implicated under the ITE Law.
Piliang's article alleged that PT Adaro, a coal mining company, bribed the PAN (the National Mandate Party) through legislator Alvin Lie, to influence the House investigation on PT Adaro's initial public offering.
The ITE Law was adopted not long after the passage of the Law on the Openness of Public Information. Prior to this, the Press Council had directly appealed to the president of Indonesia not to sign the bill into law.
Source: Allansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI)
The Allansi Jurnalis Independen (Alliance of Independent Journalists or AJI) is a founding member of SEAPA. Based in Jakarta, Indonesia. AJI seeks to promote press freedom and protect the rights of Indonesian journalists.