Press Freedom Chaos Will Ensue If All Organizations Make Regulations
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The Relevant Party in case No. 38/PUU-XIX/2021 testifying through their legal counsel at the judicial review hearing of Law No. 40 of 1999 on the Press, Tuesday (11/9/2021). Photo by Humas MK/Ilham W.M.


Tuesday, November 9, 2021 | 17:52 WIB

JAKARTA, Public Relations—If press organizations make their own regulations, there will be chaos and legal uncertainty in the implementation of press freedom that hinders improvement in the press. Therefore, Law No. 40 of 1999 on the Press facilitates press organizations in making regulations, said Frans Lakaseru, as the Press Council’s legal counsel (Relevant Party) at a hearing on Tuesday, November 9, 2021.

“In practice, the preparation of regulations in the press which is needed and carried out by press organizations is carried out pursuant to Article 15 paragraph (2) letter f of the Press Law No. 40 of 1999, in which the Press Council facilitates press organizations in making regulations until a final results of the regulation in the press is completed,” he said in response to case No. 38/PUU-XIX/2021.

In contrast, he added, if the a quo article is not implemented, there will be chaos in the press and legal uncertainty for both press organizations and the public. There will be many versions of the regulations as all press organizations will prepare and enact their own regulations without any standard.

“Meanwhile, those regulations are needed by the Relevant Party as a reference in carrying out other functions, as mandated by Article 15 paragraph (2) letter f of the Press Law No. 40 of 1999, that is, giving considerations and find solutions to public complaints on cases related to press coverages through the right of reply and the right of correction. [Those rights] are stressed in the General Provisions of Paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Press Law No. 40 of 1999. [They] are a form of public control that is guaranteed by, among others, the Press Council,” Lakaseru explained.

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

Not Yet Complied with Law

Lakaseru revealed that the Press Council was aware that not all press organizations and individuals have complied with all of the Press Council’s regulations while they have been accepted and recognized by the press organizations in a joint consensus. As such, they are binding and apply to press organizations in Indonesia.

The Relevant Party deeply regrets this. They believe this noncompliance indicates the organization’s/person’s weak commitment and disobedience with the norms of the Press Law and other implementing regulations.

Lakaseru also said that the Petitioners are among the journalists who have not complied with the Press Council’s regulation on the competency standards of journalists, seeing that their names cannot be found on the Press Council’s website.

“The first Petitioner, Heintje Grontson Madagie. The second Petitioner, Hans M. Kawengian. And the third Petitioner, Soegiharto Santoso. When a search [of their names] was done on the Press Council’s website, [they were not found]. The website hosts data and information of journalists who have met the competency [assessment] according to their levels as evidenced by a certificate of competency,” he said.

Journalists, Lakaseru said, must have adequate competency and are acknowledged by the press community. This competency standard is a measurement of journalists’ professionalism and is needed to protect the public interest and the private rights of the public. It also serves to maintain the dignity of journalists and not to limit their human rights. Journalistic competency is related to intellectual ability and general knowledge.

Also read: Journalists Revise Petition on Press Law

Improving Quality of the Press

In his testimony, Lakaseru also said that the Press Council was mandated by the Press Law to carry out the functions and improve the quality of the profession. This function is integral to facilitating press organizations in drafting regulations as referred to in Article 15 paragraph (2) letter f of the Press Law.

He added that the Press Council Regulation No. 1/Peraturan DP/X/2018 on the Competency Standard of Journalists was issued and stipulated as a tangible manifestation of the implementation of the functions of Article 15 paragraph (2) letter f of the Press Law. He believes the Press Council facilitates press organizations in formulating regulations and improving the quality of the profession.

Also read: Govt: Press Council Facilitates Lawmaking in Press

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 11/10/2021 08:40 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.


Tuesday, November 09, 2021 | 17:52 WIB 90