'Anti-democratic' articles still in Criminal Code because regime needs shield: YLBHI

CNN Indonesia – November 22, 2022
Demonstrators protest RKUHP in front of parliamentary complex in Jakarta – Undated (Antara)

Jakarta – The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) suspects that the articles that are still in the Draft Criminal Code (RKUHP) which are considered "anti-democratic" are there because the regime needs a shield.

"I suspect that the anti-democratic articles that are still being maintained by the government today are part of, that the government is aware that its performance is bad", said YLBHI Advocacy Division head Zainal Arifin during a virtual press conference by the Civil Society Alliance calling for the abolition of the problematic articles in the RKUHP on Sunday November 20.

"Because it is aware of the government's poor performance today, the government needs a shield to protect themselves, namely by still maintaining the anti-democratic articles in the RKUHP", he said.

Arifin also emphasised that they are critical of the articles which are still implanted in the latest version of the RKUHP which are seen as having the potential to narrow democratic space, namely Articles 218, 219 and 240. They believe the existence of these problematic articles proves that the government is actually ignoring input from civil society.

Under the latest draft of the RKUHP, Article 218 Paragraph (1) states that any person who publicly attacks the honor or values and dignity of the president or the vice president is subject to a maximum prison sentence of three years or a maximum fine of 200 million rupiah.

Then under Article 218 Paragraph (2), it states that this does not apply if the act is committed in the public interest or to defend oneself.

In the elucidation section on Article 218 Paragraph (2) it states that what is referred to as "committed in the public interest" is protecting the public interest and one of the ways that this can be expressed is through a protest action.

Article 219 states that anyone who broadcasts, shows or attaches writing or pictures which can be seen publicly, presents a recording which can be heard publically, or disseminates something by means of information technology that contains an attack on the honor or values and dignity of the president or vice president with the intent that the contents is shall be known or better known by the public is subject to a maximum prison sentence of four years and a maximum fine of 200 million rupiah.

Then, Article 240 states that anyone who publically insults the government and this results in a public riot taking place is subject to a maximum prison sentence of three years or a maximum fine of 200 million rupiah.

It has been reported that the Justice and Human Rights Ministry  (Kemenkumham) handed over the latest draft of the RKUHP over to the House of Representatives' (DPR) Commission III on Wednesday November 9.

The plan was for Commission III to make a level I decision on the RKUHP on November 22, but the plan was cancelled. Commission III member Taufik Basari or Tobas said that the government decided to cancel the meeting to discuss the RKUHP with Commission III.

"The meeting to discuss the RKUHP on November 21-22 was postponed", said Basari in an SMS message on Sunday. He did not however explain the reason why the government cancelled the meeting.

Meanwhile at the parliamentary complex on Wednesday, Justice and Human Rights Deputy Minister Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej or Eddy said that 69 items have been changed and five articles to removed from the latest draft of the RKUHP.

"In the November 9 draft, 69 items have been changed, five articles have been removed, so from 632 [articles] to 627. So five articles have been removed. Then there are reformulations, repositioning, some things have been removed, and there are also articles that have been added", said Hiariej at the time.

Hiariej explained that 53 of the articles included in the latest draft are based on public input. According to Hiariej, public inputs from socialisation in 11 cities have been summarised four points. (pop/kid)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was " YLBHI Duga Pasal 'Antidemokrasi' di RKHUP karena Rezim Butuh Tameng".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20221121173139-12-876617/ylbhi-duga-pasal-antidemokrasi-di-rkhup-karena-rezim-butuh-tameng