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Australian Journal of Asian Law

Abstract from Volume 10 No 2 (2008)

Increasing Press Freedom in Indonesia: The Abolition of the Lèse Majesté and ‘Hate-sowing’ Provisions

Naomita Royan, Graduate at Law, Baker & McKenzie; LLB/BComm (Melb). This article was written while the author was a Research Fellow at the Centre for Media and Communications Law, University of Melbourne (http://law.unimelb.edu.au/cmcl) as part of the research produced by a project funded by the Australian Research Council entitled ‘The Media and ASEAN Transitions: Defamation Law, Journalism and Public Debate in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore’ (DP0662844). The author acknowledges the contribution of the co-Chief Investigators of this Project, Professor Andrew Kenyon, Professor Tim Lindsey, Dr Tim Marjoribanks and Dr Amanda Whiting in preparing the article, as well as the translation assistance of Faye Chan.

This article considers the issue of press freedom in Indonesia by examining two recent Constitutional Court decisions: (1) the Eggi Sudjana and Pandapotan Lubis case, in which the Constitutional Court reviewed Criminal Code provisions regarding the offence of deliberately insulting the President or Vice-President; and (2) the Panji Utomo case, in which the Constitutional Court reviewed Criminal Code provisions regarding the expression of hostility, hatred or contempt towards the Indonesian government. In both cases, the Constitutional Court ruled that the articles in question – which enabled the state to penalise the media for merely reporting either insults to the President or Vice-President or expressions of hostility, hatred or contempt towards the Indonesian government – were unconstitutional, as they contravened constitutionally enshrined rights including equality before the law, freedom of expression, freedom to communicate, freedom of association and freedom to obtain information. The Constitutional Court’s decisions are a victory for freedom of expression; unfortunately, however, the rulings do not apply retrospectively to the cases of Eggi, Pandapotan and Panji. The abolition of these offences confirms Indonesia’s trend towards an increasingly unrestricted press that is gradually being disentangled from government interference.

(2008) 10(2) Asian Law 290

   
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