Press Freedom/Freedom of Expression in Legal Grip

AJI Indonesia slammed the use of criminal law in solving press-related disputes. AJI Indonesia also condemned that many journalists still receive violence when carrying out their journalistic duties. At least 64 cases of violence against Indonesian journalists during August 2006 – August 2006 had been recorded.

Furthermore, there are still three cases of murder against journalists, which have not been solved, namely the case of Fuad Muhammad Syafruddin (Udin), journalist of Bernas daily of Yogyakarta who died on August 16, 1996, the case of Elyudin Telaumbanua, journalist of Berita Sore daily of Medan who were kidnapped on August 24, 2005, and the case of Herliyanto, a freelance journalist in Probolinggo. Moreover, AJI Indonesia also criticized the imposition of the Criminal Code against Fakhrur Rahman, student activist of the Syarief Hidayatullah Islamic State University, during a peaceful rally to protest the policies of Soesilo B. Yudhyono’s administration. AJI Indonesia also expressed deep concerns over the ban of showing of Dendam Pocong movie on October 26, 2006.

Fakhrur Rahman was sentenced to three months in jail for defaming the president by the South Jakarta District Court on Monday, October 30, 2006. Banning and censorship against artist/film producer still also occur. ‘’Dendam Pocong’’, a movie directed by film director Rudi Soedjarwo, was banned from running by the Film Censorship Agency (LSF). There were nine points considered by LSF to ban the movie. Among them were that the movie produced by Sinemart Pictures was not in line with public norms of good manner (rape scene), was featuring violence and was showing more than 50 percent of violent and criminal scenes.

Although the Supreme Court of the Republic of Indonesia strongly stated that legal acts using the criminal code were dangering a free press, until now, there are still four criminal cases being heard in court, namely: the case of Supratman (Executive Editor of Rakyat Merdeka daily) in a case of defamation against the president, Risang Bima Wijaya (editor-in-chief of Radar Yogya) in a defamation case, Teguh Santosa (Executive Editor of Rakyat Merdeka Online) in a defamation against the religion and Karim Paputungan (editor-in-chief of Rakyat Merdeka daily) in a defamation case


The existence of the process of criminalization against journalists and the control against freedom of expression have violated Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 point (2) of ICCPR, which was ratified by the Indonesian government through Law No. 12 Year 2005 and Article 28F of the Second Amendment of the 1945 Constitution, as well as Article 14 and Article 23 point (2) of the Law No. 39 Year 1999 on Human Rights.

AJI Indonesia demanded that the Indonesian government guarantees the safety of journalists and also the freedom of expression for everyone in Indonesia. AJI Indonesia also urged the Indonesian government and the National Police to immediately make a full investigation on murder cases against journalists and bring the perpetrators to court. AJI Indonesia called on the Indonesian government to work hard to ensure protection for the safety of journalists, bring the perpetrators of violence against journalists to court, and not to threaten the freedom of expression with the Criminal Law.


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