15 Juni 2010

Human rights leader wants AGO book ban right rescinded

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 06/15/2010 4:56 PM | National

Chairman of the National Commission of Human Rights Ifdhal Kasim said Wednesday that the Attorney General's Office (AGO) should not have the right to ban books on the basis of threat to public order because this runs counter to the constitution.

According to him, Law No. 4/PNPS/1963 on Pacification of Printed Goods with Content that Could Endanger Public Order and Law No. 16/2004 on the AGO, which grant the AGO the right to supervise and ban books, both contradict the 1945 Constitution.

Ifdhal cited Article 28 of the 1945 Constitution (Second Amendment) that grants freedom for all citizens to “express their thoughts through verbal and written media”.

“Article 28 E, point 3, stipulates that every citizen has the freedom to express opinions,” he told a national seminar held by the Media Regulation and Regulator Watch at Wisma Antara in Jakarta.

The seminar was held to coincide with the official launching of the Media Regulation and Regulator Watch led by press freedom activist Amir Effendi Siregar.

Ifdhal suggested that if the AGO was concerned that a book was a threat to public order, it should take the matter to court and let judges decide through a transparent trial process. He added that the AGO could not ban books arbitrarily.

“The prosecutors should prove to the public that the book has violated the law. The author and the publisher also have rights to defend the book,” he said. (rdf)

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