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Journalist Dandhy Dwi Laksono charged with online defamation for Facebook post

Dandhy Dwi Laksono was reported for a post that compared former Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri with Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi on their handling of the Papua and Rohingya issues.

Rohingya refugees get off a boat after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border through the Bay of Bengal, in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh, 11 September 2017
Rohingya refugees get off a boat after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border through the Bay of Bengal, in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh, 11 September 2017

REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

This statement was originally published on seapa.org on 8 September 2017.

A senior journalist, Dandhy Dwi Laksono, was reported to the Police Cyber Crime Unit for allegedly committing online defamation in a Facebook post.

Dandhy compared former Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who is now the leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), to Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi about the similarity of their parties' handling of the Papua and Rohingya issues.

A PDI-P (Repdem) volunteer filed a report on September 6, 2017 to the police in the East Java finding the journalist's criticisms slanderous and insulting to the former president.

Stipulated under Article 27 (3) in conjunction with Article 45 (3), the law states:

"Any Person who knowingly and without authority distributes and/or transmits and/or causes to be accessible Electronic Information and/or Electronic Records with contents of affronts and/or defamation shall be sentenced to imprisonment of 4 (four) years at maximum and/or fine of IDR 750 million at maximum."

Law experts and human rights advocates in Indonesia have condemned the use of the law, particularly of the government's, as a tool to silence activists and journalists.

Based on the data compiled by SAFEnet, at least 35 activists have been charged with online defamation since its enactment in 2008. Of those charged, the three most vulnerable groups were anti-corruption activists, environmental activists, and journalists.

Dandhy has worked for several major media outlets in Indonesia including the two television stations SCTV and RCTI. The Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI, Alliance of Independent Journalists) awarded him the "2008 Best Journalist - Jakarta" for his investigative report on the assassination of Munir. Dhandy is now more active with his production house WatchDoc, which produces documentaries on issues in Indonesia.

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