In the latest revision of the Criminal Code, there are still threats of imprisonment for insulting the president and politicians

Oleh pleaceid

POSTER PROTES INI MUNCUL DALAM AKSI MAHASISWA DI YOGYAKARTA PADA 2019 KETIKA MENGKRITIK RKUHP YANG MELEMAHKAN KEBEBASAN SIPIL. FOTO OLEH RIZQULLAH HAMIID SAPUTRA/PACIFIC PRESS/ VIA GETTY IMAGES
POSTER PROTES INI MUNCUL DALAM AKSI MAHASISWA DI YOGYAKARTA PADA 2019 KETIKA MENGKRITIK RKUHP YANG MELEMAHKAN KEBEBASAN SIPIL. FOTO OLEH RIZQULLAH HAMIID SAPUTRA/PACIFIC PRESS/ VIA GETTY IMAGES

PLEACE.id – The RKUHP is targeted to be completed by the end of 2022. Some ridiculous criminal articles have been removed, but articles that could threaten citizens’ freedom of expression are still maintained.

The Ministry of Law and Human Rights (Kemenkum HAM) submitted  a revision to  the Draft Criminal Code ( RKUHP ) to Commission III of the DPR RI. When compared to the July 4 2022 version of the RKUHP, which has 632 articles, cuts have been made. The latest version submitted on 9 November 2022 consists of  627 articles .

Several articles underwent reformulation, addition, deletion, and repositioning. However, what should be underlined is the inclusion of articles that have long been highlighted by legal experts as threatening civil liberties. Especially regarding the criminal threat of insulting the president and the DPR.

The following is a summary of the articles of the RKUHP that are still or have been the main topics of debate among academics, non-governmental organizations, and politicians in parliament:

Humiliation of Presidents and Politicians

Article 218 regarding insulting the president has been reformulated or redesigned by the Kemenkumham. This article is maintained, with the reformulation of reducing the threat of criminal punishment, to three years in prison.  

In Article 218 paragraph (1) the previous version reads ‘Every person who publicly attacks the honor or dignity of the President or Vice President shall be punished with imprisonment for a maximum of 3 (three) years and 6 (six) months or a fine of a maximum category. IV.’ The latest draft reduces the criminal penalty to 3 years.

Still in this article, there is an addition to the definition of ‘attacking one’s honor or dignity’ which was previously in the form of demeaning or damaging one’s good name or self-respect, plus ‘blaspheming and slandering’.

This article is not considered a criminal offense if it is carried out in the public interest or in self-defense. Protecting the public interest is expressed through the right of expression and the right to democracy, for example through criticism or opinions that differ from the policies of the President and Vice President.

Apart from criticism, the latest version adds an explanation that protecting the public interest can also be done through demonstrations. So that demonstrations are not included in the category of attacking honor or dignity.

The article on insulting the president had drawn protests from the public. According to Wahyudi Djafar from ELSAM, actions that are considered part of defamation are no longer contextual when criminal punishment is given.

“A number of countries have actually withdrawn these articles of insult. Britain, which is one of the oldest countries with articles on defamation, has also revoked it. Why does Indonesia actually want to be more repressive in the context of applying this article?” Wahyudi said when interviewed by VICE some time ago.

The reduced penalty also applies to honor attacks through other media such as posters, audio-visuals and others in Article 219. From a sentence of 4 years and 6 months to 4 years.

Another article that was reformed by reducing the threat of punishment was Article 266 concerning publicly attacking the honor of a friendly head of state who was currently in Indonesia, from a threat of 2 years and six months to 2 years. Article 234 concerning defamation of the Indonesian flag, Article 236 concerning insulting the state symbol, and Article 238 concerning defamation of the national anthem have been reduced from 5 years to 3 years.

Another article that has the potential to undermine civil sovereignty is  the article on insulting members of the DPR, prosecutors and members of the National Police . Article 349 paragraph 1 of the RKUHP states that anyone publicly or verbally or in writing insulting public power or state institutions (including the DPR, the prosecutor’s office or the National Police) can be punished with a maximum threat of 1.5 years in prison. The penalty can be increased if the insult causes a riot.

Legal observer from the National University (Unas) Ismail Rumadan assessed that there was no legal basis for reference that could legitimize this article. “This article is aimed at silencing the public so that they cannot criticize the behavior of law enforcement officers who tend to violate the law and human rights,” said Ismail when  interviewed by  Harian Terbit .

On the other hand, several articles have also been deleted, for example articles 277 and 278 regarding the omission of poultry. Before it was removed, Article 277 reads ‘Any person who lets the poultry he raises walk on the garden or land that has been sown with seeds or plants belonging to another person which causes losses is punishable by a maximum fine of category II.’

Another article that was deleted, namely 429 which reads “Any person who is homeless on the street or in a public place that disturbs public order shall be punished with a maximum fine of category I.”

In his statement, the removal of the two articles was based on input in the public dialogue. Rules related to the two matters above will become the domain of the regional government.

Reformulation in the form of changing the redaction of the article and reducing the sentence also occurs in article 417 related to ‘Marriage in the Family’ which reads, “Any person who has intercourse with someone who he knows that the person is a blood family member in a straight line or sideways to the third degree, is punished with a maximum imprisonment of 12 (twelve) years.”

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