The following is a 20 September 2006 statement from AJI, a SEAPA member based in Indonesia:
On 20 September, the South Jakarta District Court made a preliminary decision against the executive editor of “Rakyat Merdeka Online”, Teguh Santosa. In their ruling, the judicial panel agreed to the defence made earlier by Teguh’s attorneys, the Advocacy Team to Defend Journalists, that the the legal basis used in the indictment was inaccurate, and dismissed the prosecutors’ indictment.
The panel, however, rejected the request by Teguh’s attorneys to drop the prosecutors’ indictment. The panel also declared Teguh’s action to be a general crime regulated by the Criminal Code and rejected the use of Law No 40 (1999) on the Press.
Teguh was brought to court for publishing one of 12 caricatures that had appeared on Danish daily “Jyllands Posten”. The caricature was regarded by Muslims as insulting to the Prophet Mohammed. In the case, the prosecutors accused Teguh of violating Article 156a letter (a) of the Criminal Code on Insults against Religion.
In response to the court’s ruling, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia:
1. Greatly welcomes the rejection of the indictment against Teguh Santosa as regards violating Article 156a letter (a) of the Criminal Code on Insults against Religion;
2. Expresses deep concern over the preliminary ruling by the judicial panel, who ruled that the journalistic work carried out by Teguh Santosa was a general crime as regulated in the Criminal Code;
3. Urges legal enforcers across Indonesia to use Law No 40 (1999) on the Press when bringing press cases to trial, as decided by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Indonesia in its ruling No 1608 K/PID/2005, in the case of Bambang Harymurti; and
4. Calls on all sides to use existing mechanisms provided by the Press Law through the right to respond, the right to make a correction and the obligation to make a correction, or file a complaint on disputes over press reports to the Press Council.