ELSAM: The freedom of expression and opinion in Indonesia has regressed since 2014

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Elsam believes that Joko Widodo’s government has contributed to the setback, the regression of the freedom of expression and opinion. (photo: IO/Yoga Agusta)

IO, Jakarta – The Institute for the Study and Advocacy of the People (Elsam) stated that the freedom of expression and opinion in Indonesia has regressed since 2014. Citing the freedomhouse.org site, Elsam stated that the Indonesian freedom of opinion index is no longer at its former level for almost five years. “Actually, in the context of freedom of expression and opinion since 2014, according to Freedom House, have regressed from free to partly free. This means there is a setback in democracy related to the freedom of opinion and expression in Indonesia,” said Elsam Researcher, Lintang Setianti, in a public discussion held in Jakarta, Tuesday (10/15/2019).

In an explanation carried on the site, Indonesia’s freedom of expression regression in 2014 was said to be closely related to the establishment of the Ormas Law in mid-2013. The law was considered overly-limiting the freedom of Indonesian citizens, especially after a series of discriminatory moves against Ahmadiyah followers. After regressing to partly free levels, until this day there has been no notable progress in the freedom of speech sector.

Elsam believes that Joko Widodo’s government has contributed to this setback. One highlight is the ‘elastic article’, which is increasingly being used to criminalize activists. The ITE Law, as well as the treason article and the blasphemy law of the KUHP became the regulations most often used to criminalize freedom of opinion. “The reason why the article is considered to be ‘elastic’ is because of the potential for ‘cherry-picking’, meaning that the law enforcers would only follow up on posts which, for example, criticize the government,” he said.

Lintang predicts that Jokowi’s second period will not be much different if the elastic article and law enforcement are not being seriously re-evaluated. “I do not want to sound gloomy, but it will be tiring, it will be very tiring, just like the last few months in which we are exhausted from seeing the high number of new arrests and criminalization,” he said. (dan)