Filing a Suit against Film Censorship

The Constitutional Court conducted the hearing of case No. 29/PUU-V/2007 for judicial review of Law No. 8 Year 1992 regarding Film (the Film Law) against the 1945 Constitution, (Monday, 26/11), with the day’s agenda of Preliminary Examination.

The petition was filed by five persons respectively acting for and on behalf of himself/herself, both as individuals and a group of individuals having the same interest. The five persons were, Annisa Nurul Shanty K. (an actress), Muhammad Rivai Riza (a film producer), Nur Kurniati Aisyah Dewi (a film producer), Lalu Rois Amriradhiani (the organizer of the Film Festival), and Tino Saroengallo (a film instructor and director).

In their petitum, the Petitioners requested the Panel of Constitutional Court Justices to declare Article 1 sub-article 4 Chapter V, Article 33, Article 34, Article 40, and Article 41 paragraph (1) sub-paragraph b of the Film Law, insofar as they are related to provisions regarding Censorship, in violation of Article 28C paragraph (1) and Article 28F of the 1945 Constitution, as well as to declare such provisions as not having any binding legal force.

In the petition’s argument, the Petitioners claimed that the censorship performed by Film Censorship Agency (LSF) by entirely rejecting a film on thematic grounds and/or eliminating a film by cutting certain parts of the film such as the title, theme, dialogue, scenes and/or voices have impaired their constitutional rights as the Indonesian film actors. In addition, the Petitioners were also of the opinion that there has not been any clear parameter or measurement for censorship.

Based on the Petitioners’ experience, the guidelines and criteria of censorship set out in Government Regulation No. 7 Year 1994 regarding Film Censorship Agency and in Regulation of the Minister of Culture and Tourism No. PM.31/UM.001/MKP/05 regarding Working Procedures for the Film Censorship Agency and the Procedures for Censorship have never been used by the LSF.

With respect to the description above, Constitutional Court Justice Prof. Abdul Mukthie Fadjar, S.H., M.S. advised the Petitioners to be accompanied by an attorney in future hearings. “Considering that the hearing is not conducted only once, and that later, arguments on legal norms will arise within the hearings,” Mukthie explained.

Furthermore, Prof. Mukthie also questioned whether through this petition, if it was granted, there would never be any more film censorship necessary in the name of creativity and freedom of accessing information. “Actually, which one is problematic: the regulation or the working method of LSF people, who have been claimed as lacking the comprehension of the development in the film industry?” Mukthie asked.

Echoing Prof. Mukthie, Constitutional Court Justice H. Achmad Roestandi, S.H. questioned whether there would not be any more concerns that the abolition of censorship would allow more distributions of pornographic films and films depicting violence. “I do believe in the Petitioners’ credibility as individuals who have a sense of responsibility in art and creativity, yet there are still many other film activists who only focus on the business aspect of the industry and consequently ignore the norms,” Roestandi described.

In respect of the questions above, Riri Riza, one of the Petitioners expressed her agreement with the existence of protection aspect for the public. Riri confirmed that she had proposed an idea about the process of censorship as applied in other countries such as South Africa and South Korea, yet there has not been any positive appreciation from the parties concerned. “Therefore, it remains necessary to conduct a judicial review against this law,” Riri replied.

Another petitioner, Lalu Rois Amriradhiani, also added that other than because the Film Law was ratified prior to the amendment to the 1945 Constitution, in practice, the criteria of censorship have been based more upon the “taste” of the ruler (i.e. the Government). “This has posed difficulties for other genres of films to develop well in Indonesia,” Lalu explained.

Prior to closing the hearing, the Chairperson of the Panel of Constitutional Court Justices, Prof. Dr. H. M. Laica Marzuki, S.H. gave a period of 14 days for the Petitioners to revise their petition. (Prana Patrayoga Adiputra/Wiwik Budi Wasito)

Monday, November 26, 2007 | 12:52 WIB 306