The Jakarta Post
National Police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti has denied restricting freedom of speech in a police circular on dealing with hate speech, claiming that it presented only guidelines for police personnel.
Badrodin claimed that the circular he signed on Oct. 8 would not hamper democracy or violate human rights, as activists have claimed it will, but rather, protect all citizens.
He said that many people were taking advantage of this era of freedom of information without considering whether their words contained hatred or other serious aggravation.
"We must protect all people. The point is you can't do whatever you like in the name of democracy," he said as reported by newsportal tempo.co on Tuesday.
The circular was sent out to all local police chiefs across the country to protect officers as they carry out their duties and assist them to better handle hate speech and prevent it escalating into more serious conflict.
Badrodin said that even though hate speech was outlined in the Criminal Code (KUHP), police personnel still had doubts regarding how to police it.
"There are many officers that are still uncertain about how freedom of speech and hate speech ['¦] are arranged in the law," he said.
"The fact is that hate speech had been the seed of conflict."
Human rights activists both applauded and criticized the police circular on hate speech, calling on police to be careful in its implementation to avoid restricting freedom of speech.
The circular stipulated that all police officers must fully understand all forms of hate speech to prevent social conflict and better identify violations of hate speech laws in campaign speeches, on posters, in social media, in religious sermons, in mass media, at demonstrations and on fliers.
Badrodin said the National Police had started the discussion on hate speech in 2011 and had now decided to issue a circular on it. Police have recently seen an increase in reports on hate speech following the growth of social media usage.
The circular taught officers how to identify hate speech and then approach all parties to find peaceful solution before enforcing the law to its full extent.
He gave the recent example of 10 supporters of Jakarta-based Persija soccer club, or Jakmania, who were arrested following their ambush of supporters of Bandung-based Persib, or Bobotoh, in the final of the President's Cup last month. Police also arrested Jakmania secretary-general Febrianto for allegedly provoking Jakmania supporters, leading them to use violence against Bobotoh in match celebrations held at Jakarta's Gelora Bung Karno Stadium. (rin)(+)
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