Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adjie, Jakarta – Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD has said that law enforcement should learn to exercise restraint following the controversial arrest and subsequent release of researcher and outspoken government critic Ravio Patra.
"This is a lesson for law enforcement to not be hasty," Mahfud said in a video statement published on Saturday. "If there is no strong evidence [to arrest someone], we should just take it as criticism."
Ravio, an independent researcher who has often criticized government policies, including its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, was released on Friday morning after being detained for 33 hours over an accusation of inciting riots through a WhatsApp broadcast.
Prior to the arrest, Ravio had announced on his Twitter account, @raviopatra, that his WhatsApp account had been hacked.
Mahfud advised people to be more careful with their mobile devices and related accounts so they would not be easily hacked by parties looking to spread provocative messages.
"We, the government, realize that criticism is inherent in a democracy. We did not intend to kill such criticism, but there are people out there looking to wreck things and who have no intention to make an objective evaluation, so we have to protect our country together," he said.
Ravio said that he appreciated Mahfud's comments and hoped that the minister would take further action to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
"I appreciate that Mahfud is paying attention to this sham of a case," he told The Jakarta Post through his legal team on Saturday. "I hope he's taking proactive measures to better protect citizens from attacks like this. His decisiveness would be pivotal in bringing the people who set me up to justice."
Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) chairwoman Asfinawati echoed Ravio's comments.
"Hopefully [Mahfud] follows up his statement by fixing the justice system and by urging law enforcement to resolve cases of hacking [against activists] that have occurred since last year and remain unresolved," she told the Post, referring to a series of phone hackings targeting anti-graft activists who spoke out against the controversial revision to the Corruption Eradication Commission Law in September of last year.