13 Oktober 2010

Indonesian Government Stripped of Power to Ban Books

Camelia Pasandaran | October 13, 2010


In a landmark verdict, the Constitutional Court struck out a controversial law that gave the Indonesian Attorney General’s Office the absolute power to ban books it deemed offensive.

“The 1963 Law on Securing Printed Materials whose content could disrupt public order is against the Constitution,” said Mahfud MD, the head of the court. “The law is no longer legally binding.”

Maria Farida Indrati, another justice, said the AGO did not have the right to ban books, suggesting that any decision to halt the publication and distribution of printed material rest with the courts, including providing avenues of appeal.

Justice Muhammad Alim said that solely empowering the AGO to ban books was as “authoritarian approach” that had no place in a nation based on laws.

The law was used under the regime of former dictator Suharto to clamp down on dissent.

In the past six years, however, it has been used by the AGO to ban 22 books, most of them dealing with the murky coup attempt in 1965. The AGO’s latest blacklist included a book on the mass murder of suspected communists in 1965/66, the insurgency in Papua and two books on religion.

The legal challenge to the law was mounted by media watchdog PR2Media, which argued the AGO’s powers curtailed freedom of expression.

source: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/indonesian-government-stripped-of-power-to-ban-books/401122

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