Monday, 14 September 2009

Indonesia: State-secrets law would carry death penalty

From The Jakarta Post, 10 September, 2009

The House of Representatives and the government have agreed to pass a state secrecy bill which would see people found guilty of leaking state secrets face the death penalty.

A member of the House's working committee deliberating the bill, Effendi Choirie, said Thursday lawmakers had approved a maximum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment or capital punishment and a minimum jail sentence of four years and fine of Rp 100 million (US$10,000) for the crime.

The committee has also reached an agreement on the definition of state secrets.

"State secrets are defined as information or materials and activities, which are classified as secrets by the president, and could potentially endanger the state, its existence and integrity if they are leaked to people who do not have the right to possess them," chairman of the committee, Guntur Sasono of the Democratic Party, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

According to Effendi of the National Awakening Party (PKB), details of the definition were available in the following articles.

"For example, only intelligence-sensitive information is classified as secret," he said in response to public fears that the definition of state secrets would be too generic and open to abuse.

In response to the ongoing deliberation of the bill, research coordinator of human rights group Imparsial, Al Araf, said that even though some of the bill’s controversial content had been dropped, the draft in general restricts the public from accessing vital information.

"It is already difficult for us to investigate human rights violations in the absence of a state secrecy law, let alone with one," he said.

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