President Widodo drops appeal against Papua internet block court ruling

Source – June 20, 2020
Widodo speaking during video conference on Covid-19 – June 10, 2020 (Setpres)

Ihsanuddin, Jakarta – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has cancelled an appeal against a Jakarta Administrative Court (PTUN) ruling which found the government at fault for blocking internet access in Papua in 2019.

“The president has decided not to submit an appeal”, Special Presidential Staff for legal affairs Dini Purwono told on Saturday June 20.

Purwono admitted that earlier the president had in fact submitted an appeal with the letter of notification of appeal from the PTUN already having been sent to the plaintiffs in the case.

The appeal submission however will be withdrawn. “It will be withdrawn”, said Purwono.

Purwono said that in the end the president cancelled the appeal because the government has in fact already complied with the PTUN’s ruling, and had done so even before the ruling was handed down.

“So there is no longer any substance which has to be debated. It’s better at the moment if the government’s concentration is directed towards things that are more important, especially the Covid-19 pandemic situation”, she said.

Earlier 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.

The internet block was carried out in August 2019 following riots which occurred because of protest actions in Papua and West Papua.

“[The court] declares that the government’s actions carried out by the defendants I and II were an act in violation of the law”, said presiding Judge Nelvy Christin I reading out the verdict on Wednesday June 3.

The first defendant was the Ministry of Communication and Information and the second defendant was President Widodo. The panel of judges sentenced the defendants I and II to pay court costs amounting to 457,000 rupiah.

Following this, Indonesian Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) General Chairperson Abdul Manan as one of the plaintiffs in the case received a notification from the PTUN informing them that the government had submitted an appeal against the ruling.

“Yes we’ve already received the notification”, Manan told on Friday evening, June 19.

Manan received two notifications that the respective defendants in the case, the Menkominfo and President Widodo, had submitted an appeal. The notification was signed by Jakarta PTUN registrar Sri Hartanto.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Jokowi Batal Ajukan Banding Putusan PTUN soal Kasus Blokir Internet Papua”.]