M Rosseno Aji, Jakarta – Chairperson of the University of Indonesia Law Faculty (UI) Student Executive Board (BEM) Adam Putra Firdaus criticized the latest draft of the penal code law (RKUHP) which criminalizes the act of contempt against the government. Adam believed that criminalizing someone for criticizing the government is a dangerous maneuver by lawmakers.
"We think this is extremely dangerous," said Firdaus on Friday, June 17, 2022.
Article 240 of the new penal code law draft bill states that every person in the public acting in contempt against an officially elected government that causes public unrest will face up to three years of imprisonment and category IV fines.
Firdaus believed that this Article violates the principle of equality before the law between the government and citizens, and threatens the freedom of expression of the people. Moreover, the parameter describing public unrest is not mentioned in detail, which can arguably criminalize a person for stating a viral opinion on social media, which can be misconstrued as public unrest.
Firdaus also highlighted the article on insulting public power or state institutions in Article 353 of the RKUHP with a threat of 1 year and 6 months. According to him, criticism of state institutions is a natural thing.
"Unclear parameters of insults can criminalize those who criticize the performance of state institutions," he said.
Firdaus considers Article 354 of the RKUHP to be more severe as it regulates insults against public authorities and state institutions through electronic media. According to Firdaus, this article is not a complaint offense, which means anyone can report another person for criticizing a state institution through electronic media.
"You can imagine the chaos and disastrous implications that could happen," Firdaus said.