Govt: Press Council Facilitates Lawmaking in Press

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Director-General for Public Information and Communication of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics Usman Kansong testifying at the judicial review hearing of Law No. 40 of 1999 on the Press, Tuesday (11/10/2021) in the plenary courtroom. Photo by Humas MK/Bayu.

Monday, October 11, 2021 | 15:22 WIB

JAKARTA, Public Relations—The press council serves as a facilitator in the preparation of laws and regulations in the press sector as stated in Article 15 paragraph (2) letter f of the Press Law. This provision is not vague as it is very clear, said Director-General for Public Information and Communication of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics Usman Kansong at the judicial review hearing of Law No. 40 of 1999 on the Press on Monday, October 11, 2021 virtually in the plenary courtroom.

He said in facilitating laws and regulations in the press, the press council facilitates press organizations in providing inputs and aspirations, in that it does not act as a regulator, as the Press Law stipulates that lawmaking in the press is carried out by press organizations.

“It is explicitly stated that the word ‘facilitates’ in the a quo provision is followed by the phrase ‘press organizations in drafting press laws and regulations.’ As such, the provision cannot be interpreted as restricting the rights of press organizations in drafting press laws and regulations. However, the press council facilitates the press organizations,” he said in response to case No. 38/PUU-XIX/2021.

Also read: Press Council’s Function in Drafting Regulations Called into Question

The press council’s facilitation, Usman said, also extends to its individual members in expressing thoughts verbally and in writing, so the a quo provision does not conflict with Article 28 of the 1945 Constitution and does not restrict the rights of individuals to advance themselves collectively to build their society, nation, and state.

“Actually, Article 15 paragraph (2) letter f of the Press Law, which regulates the rights of press organizations, cannot be said to have harmed the Petitioners as individual citizens. If they argue that the organizations have been harmed, it must be proven by authentic documents showing representation of those organizations,” Usman added.

Also read: Journalists Revise Petition on Press Law

The Petitioners challenge the functions of the Press Council in drafting various press regulations as referred to in Article 15 paragraph (2) letter f and Article 15 paragraph (5) of Law No. 40 of 1999 on the Press. They argue that the ambiguity of Article 15 paragraph (5) of the Press Law has harmed their constitutional rights. As owners of press companies and legal entities, they feel that their right to form an independent Press Council and to vote for and be elected as Press Council members democratically had been oppressed. In addition, they believe the provision has prevented them from appointing and inaugurating Press Council members.

The Petitioners organized a national press congress in 2019, in which its members were appointed. However, due to Article 15 paragraph (5) of the Press Law, the results of the congress were not responded by the president. Moreover, Article 15 paragraph (2) letter f of the Press Law must be reviewed because it had led to press organizations losing their right to formulate regulations in press. The Press Council interprets the a quo article that they have the authority to draft and stipulate regulations in press. Therefore, Article 15 paragraph (2) letter f of the Press Law contradicts Article 28, Article 28C paragraph (2), Article 28D paragraph (1), Article 28E paragraph (3), Article 28H paragraph (2), and Article 28I paragraph (2) of the 1945 Constitution insofar as not interpreted as “in forming regulations in the press by each press organization” as it limits the press organizations’ right to develop freedom of the press and uphold the basic values of democracy, promote the rule of law and human rights, respect diversity, exercise supervision, critique, provide corrections and recommendations on public matters, as well as fight for truth and justice.

Therefore, in their petitum, the Petitioners requested that the Court declare Article 15 paragraph (2) letter f of the Press Law unconstitutional and not legally binding insofar as not interpreted as “in forming regulations in press by each press organization.” They also requested that the Court declare Article 15 paragraph (5) of the Press Law unconstitutional insofar as not interpreted as “Presidential decrees are administrative in nature according to proposals or requests from press organizations, press companies, and journalists who are elected through a democratic press congress.”

Writer        : Utami Argawati
Editor        : Lulu Anjarsari P.
PR            : Andhini S. F.
Translator  : Yuniar Widiastuti (NL)

Translation uploaded on 10/12/2021 09:45 WIB

Disclaimer: The original version of the news is in Indonesian. In case of any differences between the English and the Indonesian versions, the Indonesian version will prevail.