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The Freedom of Expression and Speech in Indonesia - Essay Example

4 pages
877 words
Sewanee University of the South
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Freedom of speech has been recognized as an international human right by the United Nations (UN) who plays an essential role in protecting the rights of people on a global scale. The right to expression is contained as one of the thirty articles which outline the universal right that was put in place by the UN general assembly in 1948 (House 21). As a means of expressing views and avoiding dictatorship from the government and authoritarian regimes, most countries have clear laws and regulations which allow individuals to express themselves without limitation and intimidation. However, some nations, although part of the universal right declaration in 1948, still enact specific regulations that limit free expression and speech of its citizens. One of such states is Indonesia. Although the country is a democratic nation with a constitutional amendment which guarantees the freedom of expression, there are specific laws and actions which limit the freedom of expression and speech in the country.

The move to restrict internet freedom is one of the significant indicators that Indonesia is limiting the freedom of speech and expression. Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia Nomor 11 Tahun 2008 (UU ITE) law was put into action in 2008. It was about the regulation of electronic information and transaction in the country (McGoldrick 130). Although several states have put such kinds of laws to tame people who assault and intimidate others in in the internet, Indonesian cases prove that its principal intention is to limit freedom of expression and speech. An example is Florence Sihombing case who called Jogjakarta people poor and uncultured. Sihombing was charged by the court after the protest from Jogjakarta people. However, it is not clear if this was defamation or assault. In other words, it can be true that these people are poor and uncultured or it is just Sihombings opinion. These kinds of intimation and formulation of strict laws create fear among the citizens hence they cannot freely express their views.

The Indonesian in the past has also restricted free communication of information and speech, which include the peaceful criticism of the government, through the criminal prosecution of hate sowing offenses. This law is found in the article 154 and 155 of the Indonesian Criminal Code which criminalizes contempt, hatred, and expression of hostility towards the government. While most nations allow peaceful critics and negative feeling towards the government, such steps have been limited in Indonesia using such regulations. In any case, a person finds himself or herself with such offenses, they risk attracting prison terms of seven years (Pietsch and Marshall 201). These acts majorly targeted human and student rights in Papua and elsewhere in the country. According to the Human Rights Watchs February 2007 report, such laws are still being used in Papua to subdue free speech. For example, in 2007, Iwanggin Sabar Olif, a Papuan human rights lawyer, was detained for sending text messages that indicated that the government of Indonesia had ordered for the removal of the Papuan people. Such moves have limited freedom of expression of individuals, yet criticisms are the significant factors that inform the government on what they have not done to its citizens.

The Indonesian government silence people by jailing them whenever they express unsupportive opinions about the government. This has created serious fears and confusion among citizens. An example is the case of Prita Mulyasari, the mother and a housewife of two children 21 days in jail for composing an e-mail to her friends complaining about the treatment she got at one of the private hospitals. Mulyasaris trial caused public atrocity and attracted than 90,000 individuals to a Facebook page that was created to support her. The court ultimately freed her, but the government message was obvious - the laws could criminalize anybody for peaceful actions of criticism on poor services.

On the other hand, just like other developed nation as the United States, Indonesia have made significant steps on freedoms of expression since annulling several restrictive Suharto-era regulations that silenced the press and the freedom to speech (Tapsell 185). In 2007, Indonesias Constitutional Court affirmed the hate sowing transgressions in Articles 154 and 155 unconstitutional since they desecrated the right to free speech and expression which are protected in the 1945 Constitution. It was a sign of Indonesias transition to democracy and protection of the right to freedom of expression and speech.

In conclusion, it is evidenced that while nations are working forward to achieve complete freedom of expression and speech, Indonesia has got specific rules that halt the drive towards a free country. The regulation and actions of the government limit the freedom of speech and expression. This has been achieved by the move to restrict internet freedom through Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia Nomor 11 Tahun 2008 (UU ITE) law. The Indonesian in the past has also restricted free communication of information and speech. Lastly, The Indonesian government silence people by jailing them whenever they express unsupportive opinions about the government.

Works Cited

House, Freedom. "Freedom on the Net 2011." Obtenido de https://freedomhouse. org/sites/default/files/F OTN 202015 (2015).

McGoldrick, Dominic. "The limits of freedom of expression on Facebook and social networking sites: A UK perspective." Human Rights Law Review 13.1 (2013): 125-151.

Pietsch, Juliet, and Marshall Clark. "Critical Citizens: Attitudes towards Democracy in Indonesia and Malaysia." Japanese Journal of Political Science 16.2 (2015): 195-209.

Tapsell, Ross. "Platform convergence in Indonesia: Challenges and opportunities for media freedom." Convergence 21.2 (2015): 182-197.

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