Sunday, March 20, 2016

1) Noken voting system contradicts principles of democracy, says lawmaker

2) Rights groups say freedom  of expression in decline -

1) Noken voting system contradicts  principles of democracy,  says lawmaker 
Nethy Dharma Somba,, Jayapura, Papua | Archipelago | Sun, March 20 2016, 1:55 PM - 
The government should no longer permit the implementation of the noken voting system in elections in Papua because it contravenes the principles of direct, public and free elections, a lawmaker has said.
A member of the Papua Legislative Council (DPRD) from the Hanura Party, Yan Mandenas, said the noken voting system implemented in the Pegunungan Tengah mountain range region was not in line with the principles of direct, public and free elections because a community gave authority to one person to select a candidate in an election.
The lawmaker further said that there was no secrecy in the system because voters placed their ballots in a noken, a traditional Papuan bag that had the name of the chosen candidate written on it.
“The noken system must no longer be implemented because it takes away the right of a citizen to vote directly. Their right to vote has been taken away by a community’s chosen representative,” Mandenas said. 
The Hanura politician further said that people in Pegunungan Tengah had slowly begun to understand the process of presidential, legislative and regional head elections.
“Indonesia has long adopted the principle of direct, public and free elections and people are getting smarter in practicing democracy. So, we should not take away people’s right to elect their leaders by defending the noken system. To all political elites, please stop mobilizing people to support the interests of a certain elite group through the noken system,” Mandenas said.
It is widely believed that the noken system helps political elites attain the most votes. During the 2014 elections, candidates from several electoral districts did not get any votes while other candidates were able to gain all votes.
A law expert from the University of Cenderawasih, Marthen Fery Kareth, said the noken system must be stopped and all people should be encouraged to use their right to vote.
Kareth said the noken system had triggered many conflicts, some of which that had led to fatalities.
Kareth further explained that although voters in Papua, specifically people in Pegunungan Tengah, understood the principles of direct, public and free elections, more political education was needed to change people’s mindset about voting.
“All parties, comprising local administrations, election commissioners, Election Supervisory Agency [Bawaslu] members, political elites and academicians have to educate people so they can fully understand the democratic election system. It is hoped that people will learn to understand the principles of direct, public and free elections,” said Kareth.
The law expert said local administrations should stand in the front line to push forward the removal of the noken system.
“If there are local administrations or election organisers that call for the implementation of a token system in Papua, it’s likely they that they are trying to push their own agenda,” said Mandenas. (ebf)
2) Rights groups say freedom  of expression in decline -
Ina Parlina, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Sun, March 20 2016, 7:22 AM -

Freedom of expression in the country is in jeopardy, rights groups have warned, as the nation witnessed numerous cases of criminalization over alleged defamation in the past couple of years, with the latest one pertaining to dangdut singer Zaskia Gotik.

Zaskia was recently reported to the Jakarta Police by the Corruption Monitoring Community, a group aiming to deter such defamation, for allegedly insulting the state ideology of Pancasila and Independence Day in a television show.

RCTI, the private TV station that aired the show, asked Zaskia to apologize, but the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) nevertheless insisted on issuing a warning to RCTI for violating KPI broadcasting guidelines. Zaskia later apologized, saying she had not meant to insult the nation’s symbols.

Some might deem her comments improper, but the criminalization effort launched against her, which could see her spend up to five years behind bars for insulting the nation’s symbols, can also be seen as excessive.

Another controversial regulation that allows for criminalization of online speech is the Electronic Information and Transaction (ITE) Law, which mandates criminal punishment for anyone who purposely and without authority distributes electronic information or documents with libelous or defamatory content.

“Instead of allowing such criminalization that can have a chilling effect, freedom of expression can be regulated better by imposing permissible restrictions,” said Wahyudi Djafar from the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) on Saturday.

ELSAM has registered 45 cases of criminalization threatening freedom of speech on online platforms last year, up from 40 cases in 2014. ELSAM data also points to 35 cases of repression on offline platforms, 20 of which relate to the 1965 killings. There were also 45 instances of repression infringing press freedom, according to ELSAM, with four media executives reported to authorities last year.

Freedom House’s 2015 Index of Freedom in the World describes Indonesia as “partly free”. According to the study, treason and blasphemy laws “are routinely used to limit freedom of expression by minority groups and separatists” and “censorship and self-censorship of books and films for allegedly obscene or blasphemous content are fairly common”.

Freedom House lowered Indonesia’s status from “free” in 2013 to “partly free” in 2014, pointing to the enactment of the mass organization law, which restricts the activities of organizations.

Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara has proposed milder punishment for defamation in a revision of the ITE Law, cutting the maximum prison sentence from six years to four years and the maximum fine from Rp 1 billion to Rp 700 million. However, human rights campaigners have called for greater protection of the public’s right to express their thoughts, demanding that criminal charges be scrapped from the law altogether.

The ministry also proposed a change that will see defamation as a crime based on victim reports, a revision that is expected to prevent abuse of power by law enforcers.

At the same time, however, the ministry signaled that filtering internet content in the country would continue, despite unclear mechanisms and a lack of transparency. A recent plan by the ministry to ban microblogging website and social network Tumblr in Indonesia due to the presence of some content considered to be pornographic sparked widespread criticism.

Meutya Hafid, deputy chairman of House of Representatives Commission I, which oversees communication and technology, said the commission’s stance was supportive of freedom of expression and speech, with commission members seeking to achieve more balanced provisions in the ITE that would not undermine freedom of speech, while at the same time protecting people’s reputation.

Meutya criticized the government for failing to increase internet literacy. “We are also seeking to amend the Broadcasting Law, which will oblige not only broadcasters or TV stations, but also everyone who appears on television to be more responsible for their appearance. It is also aimed at providing better public education on television,” she added.

Beside the ITE Law, the Pornography Law is often used to criminalize people. In a 2014 case, satay vendor Muhammad Arsyad was detained by police for allegedly defaming President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo online. Arsyad was charged with defamation and spreading pornographic material following a report filed by an Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker while Jokowi was engaged in his presidential campaign.

Jokowi later asked the police to release Arsyad from detention after he had forgiven him. The President called on the public to learn from Arsyad’s case by promoting decency and respecting other people online. - 

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