Papua internet court ruling appeal shows government won’t accept criticism: AJI

CNN Indonesia – June 19, 2020
Widodo takes selfie during visit to Kaimana, Papua – October 27, 2019 (Kris)

Jakarta – Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Chairperson Abdul Manan says that the government is not ready yet to accept corrections from its citizens after it submitted an appeal against a court ruling ordering the government to apologise for blocking internet access in Papua in 2019.

While Manan said he understands that an appeal is indeed a constitutional right, in this case, he said, it shows that government’s unwillingness to accept criticism.

“It shows that the government isn’t ready yet to accept legal corrections which are made by its citizens over the political actions that it takes”, said Manan when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Friday June 19.

And even worse, he said, is if we look again at the panel of judges’ considerations when they found the government guilty, the judges only gave normative advice to the government about future policy making.

Manan said that AJI and Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) as the plaintiffs in the case are ready to face the appeal. He hopes that this time there will be a more logical explanation from the government on the policy.

“We hope that the government will present better arguments than before and not just present fabricated arguments”, he said.

On June 3 the Jakarta Administrative Court (PTUN) ruled that the President of the Republic of Indonesia and the Ministry of Communication and Information (Menkominfo) broke the law by blocking internet access to Papua in 2019.

Responding to the ruling, on Friday June 12 the president and the Menkominfo submitted an appeal. A copy of the Notification of Appeal was received by CNN Indonesia from AJI Secretary General Revolusi Riza on Friday June 19.

In its ruling, the judges also asked President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and the Menkominfo not to repeat such policies.

“[The court] rules that the defendants stop and not repeat any and all measures and/or actions to slow down and/or block internet access anywhere in the territory of Indonesia”, said the judges at the PTUN in reading out their verdict on Wednesday.

The ruling was read out by presiding Judge Nelvy Christin SH MH and assisting Judges Baiq Yuliani SH and Indah Mayasari SH MH.

The legal challenge against Widodo and his cabinet was submitted by the Press Freedom Defense Team which is made up of AJI Indonesia, SAFEnet, the Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers), the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Institute for Public Research and Advocacy (Elsam) and the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR). (dhf/ain)


The court also ordered the central government, including Widodo, to make an official apology for “slowing and/or cutting internet access” to the Indonesian people and media organisations.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “AJI Respons Banding Pemerintah soal Vonis Internet Papua”.]