Press Council’s Regulations Impair Journalists’ Rights

Chief Justice Anwar Usman opening the material judicial review hearing of Law No. 40 of 1999 on the Press, Wednesday (1/26/2022). Photo by Humas MK/Ifa.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022 | 14:28 WIB

JAKARTA, Public Relations—The Indonesian Journalists Syndicate (SWI) argued that their right to make regulations had been taken over by the Press Council as the council misinterpreted the press organizations’ joint agreement on the standards of Indonesian journalist organizations in 2006 as being the regulations of the Press Council, not individual press organizations’ regulations, said SWI Chairman Dedik Sugianto, who testified for the Petitioner virtually at a hearing for the material judicial review of Law No. 40 of 1999 on the Press on Wednesday, January 26, 2022. He said the joint agreement should have been the regulations of each of the press organizations, including SWI. “Despite not being involved in the drafting and decision-making, SWI has an ideal journalist organization standard regulation that must be realized by all within its rank,” he stressed.

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

However, he added, the Press Council had made the joint agreement of 2006 a facilitation effort. As a result, SWI as a legal entity in the press that the Ministry of Law and Human Rights had recognized was never invited in the nomination of Press Council members and had lost the right to elect and be elected as a member. “Because the Press Council unilaterally appoint press organization constituent without involving legal entity press organizations that are guaranteed by the law to have the same right,” he emphasized.

He also stressed that as a facilitator, the council in fact make press regulations that harm Indonesian journalists and hinder the national professional competency certification.

Also read: Govt: Press Council Facilitates Lawmaking in Press

Another witness, Hika Transisia, secretary of the central executive board (DPP) of the Indonesian National Journalists (JNI), expressed the organization’s loss due to the ambiguity of Article 15 paragraph (2) letter f of the Press Law. He said that due to the ambiguity, the organization could not make regulations in the press because the Press Council had exercised its regulatory authority without involving JNI, a legitimate press organization.

He also said that due to the ambiguity, the council had taken away press organizations’ right to make regulations and made its own regulation on the competency standards of journalists.

Also read: Press Freedom Chaos Will Ensue If All Organizations Make Regulations

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, they 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 01/27/2022 11:03 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.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022 | 14:28 WIB 84