Kontras warns against using ITE Law debate to bolster government's bad image

CNN Indonesia – February 16, 2021
Protest in Jakarta against criminalisation of journalists and activists using ITE law – September 29, 2019 (Antara)

Jakarta – Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) says revisions to the Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE) Law must be done immediately.

Kontras legal division staff member Andi Rezaldi said that he hopes that the talk on revisions will not just be a discourse for the sake of saving the government's reputation.

"We hope that this plan will not just be a discourse and limited to the interest of saving the government's bad image for often and forcibly criminalising people who are critical", said Rezaldi when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Tuesday February 16.

Kontras is also urging President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to completely reevaluate the implementation of the ITE Law by law enforcement officials. Rezaldi said while planning the revisions, the Indonesian police chief (Kapolri) should issue an internal police appeal not to use the catchall articles in the law.

"It would be best if the Kapolri make an internal appeal for the police to restrain themselves from using the ITE Law's catchall articles so it does not claim any more victims", he said.

In addition to this, Kontras also made several notes on what the government needs to pay attention to if it is serious about revising the law.

First, revise all of the articles which are open to multiple interpretations or have the potential for over-criminalisation in the ITE Law such as Article 27 Paragraph (1), Article 27 Paragraph (3) Article 28 Paragraph (2) and Article 29.

Kontras says that in the 744 cases prosecuted under these catchall articles the conviction rate has been as high as 96.8 percent and the incarceration rate as high as 88 percent.

"All of the articles open to multiple interpretation in the ITE Law should be abolished", said Rezaldi.

Second, that all the procedural stipulations under the law on arrests, detention, searches and seizures need to be revised to bring them into line with the Criminal Code (KUHP) and that coercive measures are based on a court order.

"Revisions to the ITE Law must restore the good things that were formulated by the 2008 ITE Law that coercive measures must have authorisation in the form of a court order", he said.

The regulations on blocking and filtering internet content must also be revised. Kontras believes that currently the government has too much authority to filter internet content on social media.

"The mechanisms on regulating content blocking and filtering must be regulated explicitly in accordance with the due process of law. The excessive authority of the executive wing of the government to block and filter internet content needs to be reviewed by including control mechanisms and supervision before and after implementing a decision", he said.

Earlier, Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs, Mahfud MD said that the government is currently discussing revisions to the ITE Law. This was not long after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo also touched on the possibility of revising the catchall articles in 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 in a posting on his Twitter account @jokowi. (mel/ugo)


In its 2020 Annual Report on Law and Human Rights released on January 26, the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) found that there were 351 cases of civil rights violations in 2020, the majority of which were violations against freedom of expression. The group said that most violations were committed by the police and military and concluded that the state continues to use a repressive approach which is eroding civil freedoms and threatens democracy.

According to the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet), between 2008 (when the law was enacted) and 2019, the ITE Law has been used to prosecute 285 cases. The rate of prosecution increased in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic with some 110 people being charged.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "KontraS Tak Ingin Revisi UU ITE Cuma Pencitraan Pemerintah".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20210216195635-32-607059/kontras-tak-ingin-revisi-uu-ite-cuma-pencitraan-pemerintah