Indonesia

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  • 5 August 2013

    Harvard Awarded $8.1 Million for Transparency Research

    Harvard University researchers have been awarded $8.1 million for a five-year project to research the impact of community transparency and accountability initiatives on health and other social sector outcomes, beginning in Indonesia and Tanzania. The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University announced that it […]

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  • 19 July 2013

    Indonesian Minister Denies Access to Concession Maps

    Indonesian Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya has determined that “concession maps” showing where companies have logging and agricultural rights are not publicly disclosable. Environmental activists say the maps can help determine who should be accountable for forest fires that recently have caused major haze problems. Questions are being raised not only about whether Kambuaya’s interpretation is […]

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freedom of information: overview

Indonesia’s Freedom of Information Law

(Written by Dr. Brad Simpson, Asst. Professor of History and International Affairs, Princeton University; Director, Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project  – July, 2010) 

The Indonesian Parliament first discussed Freedom of Information legislation in 2001, and at the end of 2002 a Parliamentary Special Committee completed draft legislation and sent it to then-President Megawati Sukarnoputri.  But neither Megawati nor her successor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, commented on the legislation until late 2005, finally enabling Parliament to begin discussing the draft legislation. 

Over the next two years members of the Indonesian Parliament debated the UUKIP, with input from numerous freedom of information and human rights NGOs, some of which received funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank and other institutions.  Discussion of the legislation revealed many disputes over which government agencies would fall under the proposed legislation (and whether state-owned enterprises would be included), how violations of the law would be penalized, what institutional mechanisms would be created to process requests for information and adjudicate appeals, and what exemptions the government could claim in the name of national security or state secrets.

 In April 2008 Indonesia’s parliament passed the freedom of information legislation, Undang-Undang Keterbukaan Informasi Publik (UUKIP), or the Transparency of Public Information Law.  The law came into effect on May 1, 2010 after a two year government review. 

The law defines the relationship between “public agencies” which produce “public information”’ and “public information applicants”’ who request information.  It applies to all public agencies at the national, regional and municipal level (including state-owned enterprises), as well as political parties and non-governmental organizations.  Public Information Applicants may “submit a request to obtain Public Information to the relevant Public Agency in writing or otherwise,” (Article 22) after which the receiving Public Agency must provide a registration number.   The recipient agency has ten (10) working days to provide written notification to the applicant concerning whether or not the request has been accepted or denied and why, as well as the costs associated with obtaining the requested information.  Applicants whose requests are denied have several layers of appeal, including access to the courts. 

Chapter III (Articles 4-8) defines the rights and obligations of Public Agencies and Public Information Applicants. Chapter IV (Articles 9-16) defines those classes of information that are subject to the law and either must be made available to the public on a timely and regular basis or released upon request by an applicant. Public Agencies subjected to the law will be required to develop internal regulations for processing the documents they create, classifying information accordingly and training agency personnel to respond to public information requests.

Chapter V (Articles 17-20) defines exemptions to the law. Article 17  defines information not subjected to the law (“exempted information”), including information that would: obstruct ongoing criminal investigations; violate intellectual property or personal privacy; “reveal the natural wealth of Indonesia”; “be harmful to the national economic security”;  “jeopardize the defense and security of the state” or “be harmful to diplomatic relations,” including “inter-state diplomatic correspondence” and “memorandum or letters between the public agencies or among the public agencies that, based on their nature are confidential.”  The exemptions exclude information related to court decisions, examinations of criminal cases by the Attorney General or the Corruption Eradication Commission, and information authorized for release by the President. 

Chapters VII and VIII define the scope and membership of the Information Commission, responsible for overseeing policy and adjudicating disputes with Public Information Applicants. The Commission will represent “elements of the government and elements of the society,”  its members nominated by the President and approved by Parliament.   In theory, applicants whose requests are rejected have three escalating venues for appeal – mediation and non-mediation adjudication via the Information Commission and litigation in the Indonesian courts.  Chapter VIII lays out the legal sanctions which can apply to government agencies and employees who fail to comply with the law, as well as private individuals who “deliberately uses Public Information against the law,”  including up to a year in prison and Rp 10 million (about US $1100) in fines.

Implications and Concerns:

Freedom of Information NGOs have  raised a number of concerns regarding the bill. The first is that often poorly funded agencies at the local, provincial and national level currently lack the procedures and personnel to effectively implement the law, raising questions of how promptly and effectively officials will respond to application requests.  Second, the law contains broad exemptions, especially in the area of national security and foreign relations, that could be used to justify withholding information regarding a wide range of government functions and operations.  Journalists in particular have raised concerns that the law does not define with enough precision exactly what information ought properly to be classified as secret, though violations of these provisions can carry heavy penalties.  Given the frequency with which the government has launched defamation lawsuits against journalists and even ordinary citizens, and the current consideration by Parliament of very broadly worded state secrets legislation, these are not idle fears.

Indonesian information advocates are rightfully celebrating  passage and implementation of the country’s first Freedom of Information Law.  It represents substantial progress over a New Order-era legal regime and political culture that previously emphasized state secrecy and harsh penalties for those accused of libel, slander, or insulting the state and its officials.  However, the impact and reach of the new law is as yet unknown, and will likely be determined by the efforts of civil society activists and ordinary Indonesians in testing its limits.

Links to articles:

“Freedom of Information Law: Transparency Under Secrecy’s Shadow,” Tempo Magazine, No. 37/X, May 12-18, 2010.

“Red Tape Hinders Access To Information,” The Jakarta Post, May 01, 2010.

“Access to info improved despite poor preparations,” The Jakarta Post, May 01, 2010. 

“House Won’t Hurry to Define State Secrets, Despite Potential Confusion,” The Jakarta Globe, April 30, 2010.

 

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News Archive

  • 19 July 2013

    Indonesian FoI Commission Needs Strengthening

    By Mohamad Mova Al’Afghani The writer is a member of the Indonesian FoI Network. He has a PhD in law from the University of Dundee, UK. This article originally appeared in the Jakarta Post. The House of Representatives has elected seven members to the National Freedom of Information (FoI) Commission who will serve for the […]

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  • 4 May 2012

    Problems Found in Handling of RTI Requests in Indonesia

    A requesting exercise in Indonesia had only a 46 percent success rate, and generated some recommendations for administrators of the right to information law to address “significant problems.” The project was conducted by the Alliance of Independent Journalists and the Centre for Law and Democracy, who also conducted a workshop evaluating the experience. CLD and AJI held […]

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  • 12 March 2012

    Reports Critically Assess RTI Performance in Indonesia

    Two years after implementation of the Indonesian right to information law, several new reports look closely at how exemptions in the law are being handled and how three agencies are implementing the law. Government officials are still taking the same approach to disclosure as they did before the law, according to one report (English)  (Indonesian), […]

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  • 6 February 2012

    Indonesia Groups Appeal Denial of Water Agreement

    A group of Indonesian NGOs led by the People’s Coalition on the Right to Water (KRuHA) is appealing to the National Information Commission the government’s refusal to provide details about the privatization of the water utility in Jakarta. The groups have been seeking access to the agreement that provides the framework for the production and […]

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  • 16 December 2011

    Indonesia Pledges to Consult on Controversial Secrecy Bill

    The Indonesia government plans to discuss a controversial state secrecy bill with its opponents, according to a report in The Jakarta Globe. Under the bill, the disclosure of classified material is punishable by prison terms of three-four years plus fines, depending on the level of classification. Critics say the definition of what constitutes a state […]

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  • 22 September 2011

    Indonesian Action Plan Issued as Part of OGP Process

    The Indonesian “action plan” announced Sept. 20 as part of the Open Government Partnership aims to be execution-oriented, people-oriented and have a snowball effect, according to the words of the preamble. Indonesia is one of the founding members of the partnership, officially kicked off in New York City Sept. 20. (See FreedomInfo.org overview.) The 46 […]

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  • 2 September 2011

    17 Countries Pledge to Join Open Government Partnership

    Nine countries plus the initial core group of eight have pledged to join the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a U.S. official told FreedomInfo.org  Sept. 2, bringing total membership to 17. The nine countries that have sent in “letters of intent” are Kenya, Guatemala, Honduras, Albania, Macedonia, Malta, Georgia, Moldova and Slovakia. More letters are expected, […]

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  • 25 August 2011

    OGP Members Begin Work on National Action Plans

    Efforts by the eight conveners of the Open Government Partnership to draft their national “action plans” are slowly emerging, according to a FreedomInfo.org survey. However, in most countries the development of a plan does not appear to involve the wide public consultation called for in the “road map” for OGP aspirants to follow. In the […]

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  • 1 July 2011

    Participants in Indonesian Training to Submit Requests

    Some 40 participants in a recent training session in Indonesia have agreed to each submit 10 requests under the Indonesian FOI law. The participants come from different civil society groups and will have support from the Centre for Law and Democracy, based in Halifax, Canada, and the Indonesian Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI). The commitment […]

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  • 2 May 2011

    Indonesian Commissioner Cites Limited Authority

    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 […]

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  • 21 February 2011

    Implementation of FOI Law Found Lacking in Indonesia

    More than two years after passage of the Indonesian Freedom of Information Act, a new study says that implementation efforts are lacking. The study of one province, Nusa Tenggara Timur, was conducted through Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Daerah (BAPPEDA) in collaboration with Article 19, TIFA and PIAR NTT.  The assessment was funded by the Government of […]

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  • 31 December 2010

    Researcher Identifies Concerns With New Indonesian Law

    A variety of concerns about the new Indonesian freedom of information law have been identified by Andrew Thornley, a specialist on democracy and governance with the Research Triangle Institute who has been researching the Indonesian experience. “… [W]orries center on the fact that while this may well be one of many sound laws and policies, […]

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  • 19 November 2010

    Indonesian Commission Opens Access to Documents

    The Indonesian Central Information Commission (KIP) Nov. 15 granted access to materials on education that had been requested by an anti-corruption activist. The order was hailed as historic by the requester, Febri Hendri, senior researcher with Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), according to a report written by Bagus BT Saragih in The Jakarta Post. “This will […]

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links

LEGAL DOCUMENTS

Public Interest DIsclosure Act (2008)

 

GOVERNMENT

Komisi Informasi Republik Indonesia

 

ORGANIZATIONS

Tifa Foundation 

 

Yayasan Sains Estetika dan Teknologi (SET) (Technology Esthetics and Science) 

 

Institute for Information Flow Studies (ISAI)

 

Indonesia Freedom of Information Coalition

 

The Sloka Institute

 

 


Contributors

Dr. Brad Simpson, Asst. Professor of History and International Affairs, Princeton University; Director, Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project Asst. Professor of History and International Affairs, Princeton University 

Director, Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project

bsimpson@princeton.edu

 


 

Measuring Openness

Global Right to Information Rating
A country-by-country rating of laws by the Centre for Democracy and Law and Access Info.

 

Freedom House
The Freedom in the World report.

 

World Bank
Worldwide Governance Indicators

 

Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index
Measures perceptions of the degree of corruption.

 

Reporters Without Borders
The Press Freedom Index.