Amnesty slams police over badge awards for reporting crimes on social media

Detik News – March 17, 2021
Slawi resident AM making public apology after arrest by police for insulting Gibran on Instagram – March 16, 2021 (polrestasurakarta)

Jakarta – Amnesty International Indonesia has criticised the "badge awards" program announced by the national police criminal investigations directorate cyber crimes division. Amnesty believes that the awards have the potential to create social conflicts.

"Police have only just arrested a Slawi resident because they were deemed to have insulted Solo Deputy Mayor Gibran [Rakabuming Raka}, the son of President Jokowi [Joko Widodo], on social media. This also shows just how narrow the space is for freedom of opinion and expression in Indonesia. How will it be if the badge awards actually go ahead?", said Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid in a press release on Wednesday March 17.

Hamid is convinced that people will be even more afraid of criticising the government if the badge award program is running. The badge awards are prizes given to people who actively participate in reporting alleged crimes on social media.

"If the badge awards program is really implemented, this has the potential to make people even more afraid to express an opinion, especially if their views are critical of government officials", said Hamid.

"Moreover revisions to the UU ITE [Information and Electronic Transaction Law] were not included in the House's priority [National Legislation Program]. People who express their views on social media will continue to be under the threat of committing a crime as long as the catch all articles in the UU ITE are not revised", he said.

According to Amnesty, the government should prioritise releasing people who have been sentenced to prison under the catch all articles in the UU ITE. On the other hand, Amnesty is asking the House of Representatives (DPR) to appeal to police not to act counter-productively.

"Immediately release those who have been imprisoned by the government as a consequence of being subject to the UU ITE's catch all articles and the immediate revision of the UU ITE should be prioritised by the government and the DPR. The leaders of the government and the DPR should appeal to state institutions such as the police not to pursue counter-productive measures", said Hamid.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Amnesty Kritik Badge Awards, Kaitkan Pencidukan Pria Komentari Jabatan Gibran".]