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Jakarta Post

Avoid laying criminal charges in blasphemy cases: YLBHI

  • Safrin La Batu

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, November 11, 2016   /  07:53 pm
Avoid laying criminal charges in blasphemy cases: YLBHI Chairman of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) Alvon Kurnia Palma (center) speaks to reporters in a press conference at the foundation's office in Jakarta. Alvon called on the government on Friday to avoid using criminal charges in blasphemy case. (The Jakarta Post/Safrin La Batu)

The police have been suggested to use criminal charges only as a last resort in dealing with any reports of religious defamation, including the case currently implicating inactive Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) said Friday that charging somebody under the Blasphemy Law could violate the person's freedom to express his or her thoughts.

"We have to use the perspective of human rights and democracy first and use a criminal charge as the last resort," YLBHI chairman Alvon Kurnia Palma said.

(Read also: Police retract plan to televise case screening of Ahok blasphemy allegation)

Alvon said the problem with the Blasphemy Law was that it was too broad with no clear-cut boundaries, meaning that anything could be considered a violation of its articles.

In particular, he said, the articles of the law could be used to silence people expressing their thoughts.

Ahok is currently being investigated by the police after being reported last month over remarks he made that were considered to be an insult of the Quran and Islam. The remarks appeared in a video that went viral last month.

On Nov. 4, thousands of Muslims staged a rally in front of Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta, demanding that Ahok be jailed. The rally ended violently with two police cars set on fire.

Alvon said the police should, rather than processing the criminal report, facilitate a meeting between the conflicting parties to resolve the issue. (jun)

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