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Tuesday, 23 February 2021 08:14

Minister declares formation of team to review Indonesia's ITE Law

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Feb. 23 - Indonesia's top security minister, Mahfud MD, announced the formation of an inter-ministerial team to review the country's Electronic Information and Transaction (ITE) Law to follow up on President Joko Widodo's request to revise the law.

The team members will work for a period of three months until May 22, 2021, to decide whether the ITE Law needs to be revised, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud MD stated at a virtual press conference that ANTARA participated in from Jakarta on Monday.

The team members, recruited from his ministry, the Communication and Informatics Ministry, and Ministry of Law and Human Rights, will review the existing law's chapters that can give rise to various interpretations, he pointed out.

"Reviewing or revising the ITE Law, whose articles, according to several elements in the society at large, can lead to multiple interpretations is necessary," he emphasized, adding that the joint team comprises a steering team and organizing team.

Mahfud MD, Communication and Informatics Minister Jhonny G. Plate, Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly, Attorney General S. T. Burhanuddin, and National Police Chief Gen. Listyo Sigit Prabowo are members of the steering team.

The organizing team, whose members are tasked with reviewing the ITE Law's chapters, is headed by Deputy for Coordinating Legal and Human Rights Issues at the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Sugeng Purnomo.

The organizing team alone is divided into two sub-teams that prioritize formulating criteria for implementing the ITE Law, and on comprehensive examination of the law's legal content, determine whether the law needs amendment.

The enforcement of Indonesia's ITE Law has brought to the fore several pros and cons in society over the past few years after it was applied to send several people to court over allegations that they have slandered figures or organizations on YouTube and social media platforms.

ANTARA noted that Soni Eranata, alias Ustadz Maaher At-Thuwailibi, a popular and outspoken Muslim preacher was one of those charged by police investigators under the ITE Law.

Ustadz Maaher was arrested at his house in Bogor, West Java, on December 3, 2020, after Husin Shahab filed a defamation case against him.

The complainant had accused Ustadz Maaher of slandering Maulana Al-Habib Muhammad Luthfi bin Ali bin Yahya, also known as Habib Luthfi, a noted ulema of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), on his Twitter account.

A day after his arrest, on December 4, 2020, police investigators named him a suspect and detained him at the National Police's Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim).

On February 4, 2021, the public prosecutors' office accepted Ustadz Maaher's dossier, thereby amending his detention status, from police detainee to the public prosecutors' detainee.

The public prosecutors' office decided to detain Ustadz Maaher at the Bareskrim prison cell from February 4 to February 23, 2021.

On February 6, 2021, Ustadz Maaher again complained of illness, and the doctors advised that he be sent back to the Said Soekanto Police Hospital.

However, the police confirmed that he repeatedly refused to get re-admitted to the police hospital, but instead, reportedly insisted on staying at the prison and receiving treatment from the police's team of doctors.

Ustadz Maaher died in his Bareskrim prison cell at 7:30 p.m. local time on February 8, 2021.

Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has sought an inquiry by the National Police into his death. (Antaranews)

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