Amnesty challenges Jokowi to release all those imprisoned under draconian ITE Law

CNN Indonesia – February 17, 2021
Usman Hamid (centre) pictured during protest at State Palace in Jakarta – December 10, 2019 (Liputan 6)

Jakarta – Amnesty International Indonesia is calling on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to release all those criminalised under the Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE) Law as a concrete step following his statement that he wants to revise the law.

"The first step that must be taken by the president to follow up on his own statement is to release those who were criminalised by the ITE Law for peacefully expressing their views", said Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid in an official press release on February 17.

Hamid hopes that the proposed revisions to the ITE Law will not just be jargon. Based on Amnesty's records, in 2020 alone there were 119 cases of alleged violations of freedom of expression using the ITE Law involving a total of 141 suspects.

Out of this total, 18 were activists and journalists. This is the largest number of people indicted under the law in the last four years.

"Many of them were charged with violating the ITE Law after they criticised government policy, such as the three leaders of KAMI [the Save Indonesia Action Coalition], Jumhur Hidayat, Anton Permana and Syahganda Nainggolan", he said

Hamid warned that people's right to freedom of expression and opinion is guaranteed under Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the ICCPR's General Comment Number 34 on Article 19 of the convention.

Under national laws meanwhile, this right is also guaranteed by Article 28E Paragraph (3) and Article 28F of the 1945 Constitution as well as Article 23 Paragraph 2 of Law Number 39/1999 on Human Rights.

Earlier, President Widodo raised the possibility of revising the ITE Law. According to Widodo, the catchall articles in the law which are open to multiple interpretations could be abolished. The former Solo mayor claimed that he will ask the House of Representatives (DPR) to jointly revise the law.

"If the implementation [of the law] gives rise to feelings of injustice, then this law needs to be revised. Abolish the catchall articles which are open to multiple interpretations, which are easily interpreted arbitrarily", said Widodo (ryn/fra)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Amnesty Minta Jokowi Bebaskan Korban Kriminalisasi UU ITE".]