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August 12, 2020, 07.21 PM

KOTABARU, – A district court in Kotabaru in Indonesia's South Kalimantan has sentenced a journalist to three months in jail for violating the country's Information and Electronic Transaction Laws.

Journalist Diananta Putra Sumedi “uploaded the article 'Tanah Dirampas Jhonlin, Dayak Mengadu ke Polda Kalsel' [The Dayak Report Jhonlin for Looting Their Lands], which inflamed ethnic, religious and racial tensions”, said judge Meir Elisabeth of the verdict on August 10.

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“The defendant has proven guilty of knowingly and unlawfully disseminating information that aims to stoke hatred and hostility towards a part of society based on their ethnic, religious and racial background.” 

Diananta expressed his disappointment with Judge Meir’s decision.

“[The verdict] sets a bad precedent for press freedom [in Indonesia],” he said, and pointed out that he already served three months in jail since last May.

His lawyer Ade Wahyudin from the Press Legal Aid (LBH Pers) agreed.

“The verdict is not just aimed at [Diananta]. It is also detrimental to freedom of the press in Indonesia.”

Ade’s fellow lawyer Bujino A. Salan is equally critical of the ruling.

“The court disregarded Diananta’s rights and legal standing. After all, his profession is accredited by the Indonesian Press Council.”

The story that was the subject of the complaint was published on the Banjarhits website. In the ruling, the court judge said the Banjarhits website is not a legal entity.

Also read: Ex-Prisoner Takes to Twitter to Expose Extortion, Drugs in Indonesian Prison

An individual named Sukirman from the Council of Kaharingan Beliefs in Indonesia sued Diananta after he uploaded Tanah Dirampas Jhonlin, Dayak Mengadu ke Polda Kalsel on November 9, 2019 on grounds the article inflamed ethnic tensions.

The Indonesian Press Council backed Sukirman by ordering Diananta to apologize and delete the article.

However, police and prosecutors carried on their investigations and charged him for violating the Information and Electronic Transaction Laws, which carries a maximum sentence of six years in jail, ahead of his trial last June.

(Writers: Andi Muhammad Haswar, Banjarmasin Contributor | Editor: Teuku Muhammad Valdy Arief)


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