No Longer a Crime to Insult President

No Longer a Crime to Insult President

JAKARTA ~ Insulting the president is no longer a crime after the Constitutional Court said this week it had revoked a colonial law used by former president Suharto to silence critics, and more recently against student protestors.

Court chairman Jimly Assiddiqie said the three articles of the penal code regarding insults against the head of state and vice president “now have no binding legal power.”

Intentionally insulting the president or vice president, including through the public display of writings or pictures, had carried a maximum of six years in jail.

The demand for a review of the law was filed by lawyers Eggy Sujana, who is being tried for libeling presidential aides, and Firman Jaya.

The law, inherited from Dutch colonial legislation, was frequently used by Suharto to silence critics during his 30 years in power.

It has also been recently used against students who insulted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Yusuf Kalla during street protests.

In October, a university student got almost four months in jail for calling the president and his deputy “cat excrement” during a protest to demand Suharto be brought to justice.

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