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If you want to strengthen democracy abolish ITE law: Parliamentary watchdog

Kompas.com - November 24, 2020

Nicholas Ryan Aditya, Jakarta – Forum of Concerned Citizens for Indonesia's Parliament (Formappi) researcher Lucius Karus has highlighted Law Number 11/2008 on Information and Electronic Transactions (UU ITE).

According to Karus, the House of Representatives (DPR) must include a reevaluation of the law in its 2021 Priority National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) if it wants to strengthen democracy in the country. He even suggests that the law be abolished because it has resulted in many victims.

"If there are few benefits, and we consistently want to strengthen democracy, then the most appropriate decision is to abolish the UU ITE so to that it's catchall articles can't be used to ensnare people at any time on grounds which are subjectively [defined] by the government and or those in power", said Karus during a webinar titled "A Picture of the 2021 Legislative Performance in the Mist of the Threat of the Pandemic and a Retreat of Democracy" on Tuesday November 24.

Karun warned the DPR to conduct a serious evaluation of the ITE law because of the many victims who have been ensnared by the catchall articles in the legislation. Karun also believes that the ITE law is eroding the spirit of democracy.

Based on data from the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) which was released on Friday November 13, there were 24 prosecutions conducted under the ITE law in 2019. This is a decline compared with the previous year when there were 25 cases.

"The DPR should not close its eyes to giving space to a serious reevaluation of the UU ITE", he said.

Karun also said that there still many issues that need to be evaluated and fixed by the DPR in 2021, in particular plans to revise the law on the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) which are unnecessary.

This is not without reason, according to Karun, because there are political interests behind the planned revisions to the BPK law.

"Why are we so very concerned if this has to be done now? We know there are family ties for example between BPK members and for example [political party] faction leaderships in the DPR. This is what has made us very concerned that this proposed [revision] is being pushed by individuals at the BPK and then welcomed by the DPR", said Karun.

Formappi noted that throughout 2020 the DPR only enacted three draft laws out of a target of 37.

The three laws were the Draft Law on Mineral and Coal Mining (RUU Minerba), the Draft Omnibus Law on Job Creation (RUU Ciptaker) and the Draft Law on Cooperation and Sweden in the Defense Field.

In addition to this, Karun said that the DPR needs to study several existing laws in order to avoid an overlap of regulations. According to Karun, much of the legislation produced by the DPR appears to overlap with other regulations.

On Monday November 23 the first working meeting between the DPR's Legislative Body (Baleg), the Minister for Human Rights and Justice (Menkumham) and the Regional Representatives Council's (DPD) Legislative Planning Committee (PPUU) was organised.

Meetings of the 2021 Priority Prolegnas Drafting Working Committee are scheduled throughout this week. The target is that on Thursday November 26 the meetings between the Baleg, the Menkumham and the PPUU will be able to determine the 2021 Priority Prolegnas.[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Formappi: Kalau Mau Perkuat Demokrasi, Ya Hapus UU ITE".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2020/11/24/21525471/formappi-kalau-mau-perkuat-demokrasi-ya-hapus-uu-it