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AJI Indonesia urges DPR to scrap problematic articles in revised KUHP, ITE Bills

Tempo - October 6, 2021

Andita Rahma, Jakarta – The Indonesian Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI Indonesia) urges the House of Representatives (DPR) and the government to dismiss problematic articles that threaten press freedom and freedom of expression in the Criminal Code bill (RUU KUHP) and the ITE bill (RUU ITE). The two bills were approved by the DPR to be included in the 2021 Priority National Legislation Program.

A number of articles in the two bills put journalists at high risk to be criminalized. Among them is an article regulating actions such as 'broadcasting, showing, or publishing writings or pictures so that they can be seen by the public, or playing recordings so that they can be heard by the public'.

"We know that all these actions are characteristic of a journalist's job, which is to inform the audience. This article will be easily used by people who despise journalists and report them legally under pretexts that may not be strong and easy to find," said AJI Indonesia chairman Sasmito Madrim in a written statement on Wednesday, October 6.

The DPR and the government are also urged to listen to people's voices and be transparent in discussing the revision of the bills. Sasmito argued that community involvement has only been ceremonial thus far, resulting in a one-way communication on the discussion of the bills, or without any feedback from the public.

AJI Indonesia also calls for the strengthening of journalistic ethics. Articles regarding news that are uncertain, exaggerated, or incomplete (Article 263) conflict with the Press Law (Article 15) which stipulates the right of reply. Based on the Press Law, the press is obliged to provide the right of reply, while the Criminal Code bill does not accommodate this mechanism.

Another article that is not in line with the Press Law is the article regarding news related to ethnicity, class, or religion. In dealing with a problem, the Press Law prioritizes resolution through mediation (right of reply or Press Council) rather than criminal penalties given that it is an ethical issue, not a crime.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1514232/aji-indonesia-urges-dpr-to-scrap-problematic-articles-in-revised-kuhp-ite-bill