The case of Baiq Nuril – a high school teacher who was sentenced to six months in prison for recording audio of her principal making explicit and inappropriate sexual remarks towards her – has been decried by many as a grave injustice and a prime example of the flaws in Indonesia's draconian Information and Electronic Transactions Law (UU ITE).
After the Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision by finding her guilty, Baiq is now exercising one of her last legal options to obtain her freedom by filing a judicial review.
Although the country's highest court rendered their decision on her case in November, Baiq's legal team today submitted their petition for judicial review in the Mataram District Court (where her case was first tried and she was found not guilty) in accordance with legal procedure. The lower court must conduct its own evaluation on the validity of the petition before it reaches the Supreme Court.
It was expected that Baiq's judicial review would be filed on the basis of new evidence derived from a pending sexual harassment case against the principal she recorded, but instead her lawyers said that the review was based on a mistake made by the judges adjudicating her case. However, her lawyers did not specify the exact nature of the mistake detailed in their filing when speaking to the media today.
"Hopefully what we are trying to do runs smoothly and can be accepted, so that I can be freed from this punishment," Baiq said while standing beside her legal team after submitting the judicial review with the Mataram District Court today as quoted by Antara.President Joko Widodo is just one of many Indonesians who have voiced their concern over this controversial case, promising that he would look into giving Baiq a presidential pardon should her judicial review fail.
Baiq's case first began while she was working as a teacher at a high school in Mataram on the island of Lombok. She says that she was verbally sexually harassed with indecent conversation by her school's principal several times before she decided to record him doing so during a phone conversation back in 2012.
When the recording was made public (the audio was uploaded not by Baiq but one of her colleagues instead), the principal lost his post. But in retaliation, he filed a criminal report over the recording for violating UU ITE, which criminalizes any electronic message or communication that could be considered slanderous or immoral (and which has been criticized innumerable times as a tool to promote censorship, limit free speech and protect those in power by criminalizing those who speak out against them).
Although found not guilty in the district court, the Supreme Court overturned that decision, ruling that Baiq was guilty of "distributing and/or transmitting or making accessible electronic information and/or electronic documents that have contents that violate morality."
When the Supreme Court finally published the official court document pertaining to the case in December, it became apparent that the court ignored the sexual harassment aspect of her case, focusing instead on the principal's honor.
"Because of the actions of the defendant, the career of the plaintiff, Haji Muslim, as a principal came to an end, his extended family was shamed and his honor was violated," reads a passage in the much criticized court decision.
For that, Baiq was sentenced to six months in jail as well as a fine of IDR500 million (US$33,500). A crowdfunding campaign to pay her fine has raised IDR 370 million so far.