CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

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Indonesian students go to court over criticism law

Jakarta (UCAN):  The Indonesian Catholic Student Association has joined rights groups in filing for a judicial review with the Constitutional Court of a newly introduced law criminalising criticism of Indonesia’s parliament and its members on March 21.
 
The association questioned a provision in the law—which came into effect on March 15—that says parliament’s ethics council can take legal action against those who “disrespect the dignity” of lawmakers and parliament as an institution.
 
Kosmas Mus Guntur, a student at Borobudur University in Jakarta said the law means “lawmakers’ immunity rights exceed the limits of fairness.”
 
Bernadus Barat Daya, a lawyer representing the students, said the law could see people imprisoned for exercising their right to hold lawmakers accountable.
 
“The phrase ‘disrespect the dignity’ can be applied arbitrarily according to subjective interpretations or based on their (the lawmakers’) political interests,” he said.
 
He called the law a “tongue-cutting tool” which can also be used to criminalise the press.
 
“Freedom of opinion and freedom of the press represent people’s sovereignty,” he said.
 
Guntur pointed to one article that says investigators must get permission from either the parliament’s president or ethics counsel to question lawmakers about criminal cases, except corruption investigations. 
 
“They fortify themselves, regard themselves as special people, while controlling other people’s rights,” he said.
 
Other organisations, including the Forum of Law and Constitutional Studies and the Indonesian Solidarity Party have also filed for a judicial review.

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