The Alliance of Independent Journalist (AJI) Indonesia positively welcomed a ruling by the Constitution Court of the Republic of Indonesia, which in the ruling Number 013-022/PUU-IV/2006, had stated that articles regarding insults against the president, namely Article 134, Article 136 bis, and Article 137 of the Criminal Code (KUHP), were not legally binding because it had violated the 1945 Constitution.
The constitutional review on the articles regulated insults against the president was made by Eggy Sudjana and Pandapotan Lubis to the Constitutional Court because those were regarded of violating Article 27 point (1), Article 28, Article 28E point (2) and point (3), Article 28F, and Article 28j point (1) and point (2) of the 1945 Constitution.
The Constitutional Court stressed that the provisions were irrelevant anymore because the law stressed the principles of equality before the law. The provisions also curbed the freedom to expression, freedom to access information and the principles of legal certainties. The provisions created legal uncertainties due to its sensitiveness to the interpretation over protests, freedom of speech, criticism or insults against the president.
Eggy Sudjana’s attorney, as quoted by Kompas Daily (7/12/2006) said that the ruling was a constitutional victory for a community who upholds democracy.
AJI Indonesia President Heru Hendratmoko said, ”We welcome the ruling of the Constitutional Court, because so far, the provisions on insults against the president in KUHP were used to protect government officials from criticisms expressed by the people.”
Based on AJI’s records, the articles on insults against the president did not only snare students and activists, but also journalists. One of them was Supratman. The executive editor of Rakyat Merdeka was brought to court under the charge of insults against the president because his media had published a news report regarded of insulting President Megawati. The South Jakarta District Court sentenced him to six months on probation. Supratman appealed over the verdict.
AJI Indonesia also urged the Constitutional Court to be willing to review provisions in KUHP, which are potential to violate freedom of expression, freedom to express opinions, freedom to gather, freedom of press and general human rights.
AJI Indonesia demanded that efforts to revise criminal law through the drafting of new KUHP will not anymore contain criminal provisions, which control freedom of expression, freedom to express opinions and freedom of press.
AJI Indonesia reminded that since the admission of protection for human rights in the Constitution through the second amendment of the 1945 Constitution and the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights through the Law No. 12 Year 2005, the Indonesian government is obliged to harmonize the national legal system in order to respect and protect human rights.