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Indonesia constitutional court nixes restrictions on anti-government speech

[JURIST] The Indonesian Constitutional Court [official website] Tuesday voided Articles 154 and 155 of the Indonesian criminal code prohibiting acts of inciting hatred against the government or the distribution of materials voicing opposition against the government, ruling that Dutch colonial-era articles violated the freedom of expression guaranteed in the 1945 Indonesian Constitution [text]. The ruling stems from an appeal filed by Aceh activist Panji Utomo, who was sentenced to prison for leading protests against the government [WorldBank backgrounder, PDF] in September 2006.

Last December, the Constitutional Court analogously voided Articles 134, 136, and 137 of the criminal code [Amnesty report], ruling that prohibitions on "insulting the President or Vice-President" violated the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Indonesian constitution. In February, after Indonesia convicted and jailed at least 18 people for peacefully advocating Papua [Wikipedia backgrounder] independence, Human Rights Watch criticized Indonesia for continuing to criminalize peaceful dissent. AP has more. Xinhua has additional coverage.

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