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  • Writer's pictureManushya Foundation

Indonesia: Small Business Owner Wahyu Dwi Nugroho's Conviction Challenges Free Speech

What happened?

Wahyu Dwi Nugroho commonly known as Wahyu, was accused of violating Indonesia's Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE) Law due to a TikTok video he posted, related to prohibitions on shopping at stalls outside the influential Majlis Taklim Al Busyro neighborhood in mid-2022. The Majlis Taklim holds significant sway and boasts a substantial following in West Java and its neighboring areas. Therefore, to ensure Wahyu's rights are protected, his legal defense was provided by the Keadilan Bogor Raya Legal Aid Institute, with support from PAKU ITE, a collective of ITE Law victims formed by SAFENet, a member of the ASEAN Regional Coalition to #StopDigitalDictatorship.

In a disturbing turn of events, the scheduled verdict hearing for Wahyu took place on Thursday, August 10, 2023, at the South Jakarta District Court. Despite being detained since March 2023 and subsequently released on the evening of August 11, 2023, Wahyu was handed a 5-month jail sentence. This outcome has sparked concerns over the delivery of justice in his case.

The weaponization of the ITE Law strongly threatens democracy in Indonesia

Evidently, Wahyu’s case underscores the practice of criminalizing ordinary citizens under Article 28 (2) of the Indonesian ITE Law, which pertains to "hate speech." The situation highlights a domino effect, wherein the law's malleability is exploited to address a wide array of online disputes without accounting for existing power dynamics. Concurrently, this situation fosters fear and dissuasion among those seeking to voice their opinions within Indonesia's democratic landscape, particularly as the nation approaches the February 2024 election.

The plight of Wahyu and the misuse of the ITE Law underscore the necessity of safeguarding justice and democracy in Indonesia. Addressing these concerns through comprehensive legal revisions will not only rectify current injustices but also fortify the democratic principles that are crucial to the nation's progress.

#WeAreManushyan ♾️ Equal Human Beings

Our Call to Action

✊ Given these disconcerting developments, Manushya Foundation urges the Indonesian government to take immediate steps towards revising the ITE Law. It is imperative that the law's problematic sections are identified and rectified. The revised legislation should be crafted with precision, avoiding vague or ambiguous clauses that might cultivate legal uncertainty and erode public trust in the justice system.

We also stand in solidarity with Wahyu, and with all victims of the Indonesian ITE Law. We vehemently express deep concern over the decision made by the Panel of Judge at the South Jakarta District Court, Indonesia, regarding Wahyu’s case. The principle in safeguarding freedom of expression, as enshrined in Article 28E (3) of the Constitution of Indonesian, and in the Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) appear to have been disregarded and violated. We call on the Indonesian authorities to stop weaponizing the law to censor any criticism, now!


While you’re here, learn more about our work on Digital Rights in ASEAN, and in particular in Indonesia ⤵️


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