In wake of activist’s arrest, draconian ITE law must be revoked or reviewed

Source – March 7, 2019
PSHK legal expert Bivitri Susanti speaking in Jakarta – March 7, 2019 (Kompas)
PSHK legal expert Bivitri Susanti speaking in Jakarta – March 7, 2019 (Kompas)

Fitria Chusna Farisa, Jakarta – Constitutional legal expert Bivitri Susanti from the Center of Law and Policy Studies (PSHK) says that the Information and Electronic Transaction Law (UU ITE) must be reviewed.

This is because the law has already claimed many victims, including most recently human rights activist and Jakarta State University (UNJ) lecturer Robertus Robet.

Robet was arrested by police for insulting the authorities or a public institution in Indonesia after he gave a speech at a Kamisan (Thursday) action in front of the State Palace on February 28 which took up the issue of the dual socio-political function (dwi-fungsi) of the ABRI – an abbreviation for the Indonesian Armed Forces – now call the TNI.

“This law has indeed already claimed many victims, so I think that in the future it must indeed be reviewed by lawmakers because Robertus Robet is not the first (victim)”, said Susanti at her office in the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) building in Central Jakarta on Thursday March 7.

According to Susanti, it would be best if the ITE law was revoked altogether. But if this measure is not yet possible, the government should at least stop applying the law until a review has been completed.

Most importantly, the political and legal stipulations in the law must be clarified. “Look at it, review the pluses and minuses. There are many minuses in the context of democracy and the law”, said Susanti.

Police have declared Robet a suspect in a case of alleged criminal defamation against the authorities or a public agency in Indonesia.

Based on the charge sheet from the National Police, Robet has been indicted under Article 45 A Paragraph (2) in connection with Article 28 Paragraph (2) of the ITE law and/or Article 14 Paragraph (2) in conjunction with Article 15 of Law Number 1/1946 on the Criminal Code and/or Article 207 of the Criminal Code (KUHP).

Robet is alleged to have disseminated information aimed at creating hatred and animosity against individuals and or social groups based on SARA (ethnic, religion, race and inter-group issues), fake news or defamation against the authorities or a public agency.

Robet is alleged to have committed this crime when he was giving a speech at the Kamisan action on February 28 about ABRI’s dwi-fungsi. In the speech, Robet sang a song which was popular among the 1998 students movement to satirise the ABRI.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Berkaca dari Kasus Robertus Robet, UU ITE Dinilai Harus Dikaji Ulang”.]