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Indonesia high court prohibits jailing of journalists

[JURIST] The Supreme Court in Indonesia [JURIST news archive] Wednesday ordered that courts should not imprison journalists found guilty in criminal press dispute cases, but should instead impose fines against them. Indonesian Chief Justice Bagir Manan said in a statement that punishment in press disputes "must not in anyway interfere with media activities," during a recent meeting attended by Indonesian Supreme Court justices and other top judges in the country. But Bagir said that criminal charges could still be filed against media outfits, thereby denying requests by some journalists that courts hearing media dispute cases should use the Press Law rather than the country's Criminal Code [backgrounder]. Bagir said, "Media that use their freedom wantonly must be considered a threat to the press and growing democracy in general. For us in Indonesia, criminal charges in media disputes are still necessary." The high court's decision came in response to observations that the country's freedom of press was in question after several verdicts were handed down ordering the jailing of journalists [JURIST report]. From Indonesia, the Jakarta Post has local coverage.

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