Statement by Dr. Albert Hasibuan, Member of the Presidential Advisory Council, Before the 20th Session of the Human Rights Council - Item 3: Reports on the Special Rapporteurs on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights to Freedom of Expression
June 19, 2012 Posted under Human Rights and Humanitarian Issues
Allow me to thank the two Special Rapporteurs for their informative reports and useful recommendations.
I would also like to align myself with the statement of Pakistan on behalf of the OIC.
On behalf of the Indonesian Government, I wish to reconfirm our invitation to Mr. Frank La Rue to visit Indonesia within the mutually agreed timeframe. I hope this visit will be complementary to your previous visits to the country.
As part of its positive obligation to promote the right to freedom of expression, Indonesia ensures full political support to the strengthening of media freedom and to the development of a thriving independent, plural and diverse media.
Law on the Press clearly stipulates that freedom of the press is a manifestation of the people’s sovereignty. The Law invalidates the obligation of having a publication permit that in the past was used to control the press. Furthermore, the Law also dispenses with censorship, broadcast bans, and the closing down of media publications.
In this conducive environment, freedom of expression has found fertile ground in the people, who are now able to voice – whether individually or collectively, and without any restraints – their opinions on issues in the social, economic, political, cultural and other domains. Demonstrations staged by groups in the society have become common and frequent occurrence across the country, even right in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta.
Similarly, the guarantee of freedom of expression has enabled the print and electronic media to flourish tremendously. As a result, it is now estimated that there are around 1,000 print media, 150 television media, and 2,000 radio stations nationwide.
Touching on the pertinent issue on the safety of journalists, including citizen and public journalists, my delegation notes various recommendations in the reports. While acknowledging the contributive role of social media, it is also an undeniable fact that in a complex society, social media is exposed to manipulation and misuse. This in turn has the potential to foment emotions and an excessive reaction from the society. With the spread of malicious and unfounded rumours, it may culminate in conflict.
These differing, and sometimes contrasting, opinions or perceptions are in themselves healthy signs of a vibrant democracy. As a highly pluralistic society, it is of paramount importance that Indonesia continues to nurture the conception of pluralism within its society, whilst at the same time preserving the integrity of the state and nation.
In Indonesia, the Constitutional Court, established in 2004 serves as an important legal instrument for citizens seeking guarantee in the exercise of their freedom of expression. The Court, also serves to ensure that the prevailing legislations at the level of laws are not incompatible with the fundamental premises stipulated in the 1945 Constitution.
In this connection, the Constitutional Court’s rulings assert the constitutionality and legality of the freedom of expression.
In the legal context, the judicial processes also help to prosecute and indict perpetrators of criminal acts committed to journalists that help bring a sense of justice and guarantee of safety for the journalists concerned.
In closing, Madame President, amidst its shortcomings, Indonesia is without doubt committed to the rights of freedom of expression. In the course of our history, we have faced innumerable, and at times quite daunting challenges. But through the sheer strength of our will and determination, we have always managed to eventually prevail.
Finally, I wish to ask Mr. La Rue on how education plays its role to strike the balance between ensuring freedom of expression and preventing social tension or conflict?
I thank you.
Geneva, 19 June 2012