A new development in the case of alleged defamation against Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, involving human rights defenders Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti took place on 6 March 2023. The case, which was reported to the Regional Police in September 2021 and has had an ongoing legal process, including the examination of the suspects by the police, for one and a half years, was handed over to the Attorneys General’s Office for further investigation and prosecution. On the morning of 6 March 2023, Jakarta’s Police summoned Fatia Maulidiyanti and Haris Azhar to inform them about the case file’s completion and to perform a medical check-up before handing the case file over to the East Jakarta District Court.
The Civil Society Coalition for Democracy called on the Attorney General’s Office to stop the alleged defamation case. “We urge the Jakarta Attorney General’s Office to stop this case’s process for the sake of the law. If not, then this process increasingly shows that law enforcement officials are also narrowing the space for freedom,” said the Civil Society Coalition for Democracy in a written statement on 6 March. They also emphasized that Haris and Fatia’s actions should not be prosecuted because they are classified as legitimate criticism of public officials and a form of public participation in the context of government supervision.
The two human rights defenders face charges under Article 27 paragraph (3) of the Electronic Information and Transactions Law concerning defamation, and Articles 310 and 311 of the Criminal Code concerning attacking someone’s honour and reputation with accusations and defamation respectively. However, the Criminal Code also contains relevant justifications for posting the video under Article 310 paragraph (3), which states, “it does not constitute defamation if the act is carried out in the public interest”.
Mr Haris Azhar expressed disappointment and told reporters on 6 March that “the state should not use its power in this way when it is criticised by the public or by advocacy groups. He stated that he and Fatia M. are ready to face the legal process, especially at the trial stage later.
The case is currently at the Prosecutor’s Office for the preparation of the indictment. Once it is ready the case file will be submitted to the Court. Human rights activists Fatia and Haris are not detained or under arrest. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, juridically and normatively in the Indonesian Criminal Code, the articles under which both are charged are not criteria for detention.
KontraS has also made available a fact sheet of the case in Indonesian (download PDF).