Indonesian Commissioner Cites Limited Authority

2 May 2011

The Indonesian Central Information Commission (KIP) received 224 requests from citizens and corporations to settlement of information disputes between July 2010 and March 2011, according to an article in the Jakarta Post.

The commission provided information in 22 disputes through mediation.  “Seven cases went through adjudication, but in only three of them were documents eventually delivered to citizens,” according to the paper. The report continued:

KIP commissioner Abdul Rahman Ma’mun said that the figures showed that the commission had limited authority to take further action to ensure that the information was given to the ones who had requested the documents.

“The commission’s authority is only to formulate the procedure in a dispute settlement. We cannot convict the defendant but only order them to open or keep their information. Further action will be under the authority of the Supreme Court,” Abdul said.

Abdul cited the example of the case of police officers’ bank accounts as among the failed adjudication cases.  “The process is ongoing. But, I think the Jakarta Administration Court is also confused whether to treat the case as an appeal or not,” he said.

The head of the Information and Public Relations Center at the Communications and Information Ministry, Gatot S. Dewa Broto, said his institution had held many forums to urge public institutions to have information and documentation officers and the provincial administration have information commissions.

From the forum, Gatot said there were five constraints in the implementation of the law. The constraints were institutional nervousness that the law will expose them and that officials tend to refuse to be appointed as information and documentation management officers. Also, several high ranking officers think information management should be handled by public relations officers, officials see the law as a burden and people are concerned about criminal sanctions.

“And, yes, there is a tendency that the public officials close off information to the public,” Gatot said.

The Freedom of Information Law was passed in 2008 and became effective two years later. (See previous report on NGO study.)  (Also article on implementation by Andrew Thornley.)

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