Corrected-Court rules govt's internet shutdown in Papua as 'unlawful'

Corrected-Court rules govt's internet shutdown in Papua as 'unlawful'

Illustration - Blocking Internet access. (pexels.com)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - (Corrects the verdict's details)

Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN) ruled that the Indonesian government’s decision to block internet communication in Papua and West Papua last year was “unlawful.”

“(We have) prosecuted (and) granted the plaintiff's claim," Nelvy Christin, chief of the panel of judges, remarked here, Wednesday.

The Press Freedom Defenders Team, comprising the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia, South East Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet), Press Legal Assistance Institution (LBH Press), YLBHI, KontraS, Elsam, and ICJR, filed the lawsuit.

In the meantime, President Joko Widodo and the communication and informatics minister were listed as Defendant I and Defendant II.

"We (hereby) state that the actions of the government, carried out by Defendant I and Defendant II, were unlawful acts by government bodies and/or officials," the judge stated.

These actions comprise throttling or slowing down access or bandwidth in several regions of the provinces of West Papua and Papua on August 19, 2019, from 1 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. local time.
 


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Secondly, there was blockage of data services and/or the complete termination of internet access in Papua Province’s 29 cities and districts and West Papua Province’s 13 cities and districts since August 21, until at least September 4, 2019, at 11 p.m. local time.

Thirdly, blockage of data services and/or termination of internet access had been extended in Papua Province’s four cities and districts, specifically Jayapura City, Jayapura District, Mimika District, and Jayawijaya District, and West Papua Province’s two cities and districts comprising Manokwari City and Sorong City, from September 4, 2019, at 11 p.m. Eastern Indonesian Time, to September 9, 2019, at 6 p.m./8 p.m. local time.

"(We are) punishing Defendant I and Defendant II and are required to pay the cost of the case jointly to the tune of Rp457 thousand," she noted.

Minister of Communications and Informatics, Johnny G. Plate, stated that he respected the Court's decision.

"We respect the court's decision, but we also reserve legal rights as defendants. We will speak to the State Attorney to decide on the subsequent legal step," the minister revealed.

Plate expounded that he had yet to discover documents pertaining to the government’s decision to block or restrict internet access in the region.

"I also did not find information on meetings at the Ministry of Communication and Information related to this matter. However, there could have been damage to the telecommunications infrastructure that led to internet disruption in the area," he remarked.

Minister Plate laid emphasis on the fact that President Widodo had formed policies in the best interests of the state and people of Indonesia, including those of Papua.

"I am grateful if the policy can also benefit other nations and not solely for the interests of a handful of people or groups that are not necessarily in line with the interests of our nation and country. We certainly hope that further freedom of expression and expression of democracy through cyberspace can be achieved in smarter and more responsible ways and be used for activities that are beneficial to our nation," he stated.

Meanwhile, the plaintiff's legal counsel, Muhammad Isnur, lauded the decision of the Court's judge, as he was said to have made several human rights considerations in his process.

"The Jakarta State Administrative Court’s decision to declare the slowdown and blocking of the internet as an unlawful act also opens up the possibility for those, who feel aggrieved by the policy, to sue and seek compensation, of course, after having permanent legal force," Isnur noted.


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