Brief Overview

Indonesia has very strict and frequently used blasphemy laws, most comparable to those of Malaysia, the Maldives, and Pakistan. In online spaces, the Law on Information and Electronic Transaction (2008) seemingly extends defamation in the online sphere.

Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law

The Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law is the first law in the field of information technology (IT) and electronic transactions in Indonesia. This law bears resemblance to similar cyber laws in most countries in the region in that it extends defamation laws into the online sphere. Under Article 27 of the Law, anyone who distributes electronic information that contains defamatory or threatening content or information that contains violent content, threats, incitement, or would result in consumer loss can be imprisoned for up to four years or fined up to 1,000,000,000 rupiah (US$70,000). Individuals accused of defamation under this law can be detained for 50 days without trial.

The 2016 revision of the law included a new cyber-bullying clause under Article 29, ostensibly to protect children, but in reality to target Government critics. The clause vaguely defines bullying as including texts, pictures, videos and memes deemed to incite fear or cause embarrassment, further expanding the scope of critical acts which the Government can prosecute.

The ITE Law and its amendment can be accessible in the link below:



9 July: Silencing the media: Indonesia shooting reveals reporting risks

While AJI does not have firm data on acts of violence against journalists in North Sumatra due to underreporting and a lack of prosecutions, Liston said the recent spate of attacks show the dangers faced by journalists in the region. These can include physical violence, as well as legal problems, such as prosecution under Indonesia’s broadly worded Electronic Information and Transactions Law (UUITE).

The government has proposed amendments to the ITE after a three-month government-led study to determine if aspects of the lawneed to be amended. Limited amendments of the law will relate to six issues: namely hate speech, hoaxes, online gambling, violations of decency, slander and defamation. The government has proposed a stricter definition to limit abuse of the law. Rights activists have argued these revisions are insufficient.

18 May: Indonesian man arrested for mocking Palestine says he meant to insult Israel

A man in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) is facing six years in prison under Indonesia’s Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), with police alleging that he insulted Palestine on a TikTok video, even though he claims to have gotten the state mixed up with Israel

5 May: Indonesian journalists urge changes to cyber law

According to the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), the information and electronic transaction law, which aims to regulate online content, has been used to prosecute at least 25 journalists in recent years, some of whom have been jailed

15 April: Indonesia inches closer to ‘authoritarianism’ during pandemic

The Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) and Amnesty International Indonesia issued separate reports on Wednesday, but both found that the COVID-19 pandemic had allowed authorities to restrict civic space in the region.

19 March: New ‘virtual police’ adds to fears over loss of online civic space, civil freedoms

The National Police’s move to launch a “virtual police squad”, or cyber patrol, for tracking social media posts containing criminally offensive content, has sparked widespread fear of state surveillance at a time when cybercrime is on the rise in Indonesia

18 March: Internet law’s defamation provision raising concerns: deputy minister

Deputy Minister of Law and Human Rights, Edward OS Hiariej, has admitted that the provision on defamation in Article 27 Paragraph 3 of Law Number 19 of 2016 concerning Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE) has raised concerns

4 March: Jokowi orders cyberlaw review as libel claims soar in Indonesia

President Joko Widodo has ordered a review of a law aimed at cleaning up Indonesia’s digital space, amid complaints it is being used to attach freedom of expression

17 February: Ball in Jokowi’s court on ITE Law revisions

The House of Representatives is set to amend the controversial Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law this year, but the initiative should come from the government, lawmakers say.

16 February: Indonesia’s Proposed Online Intermediary Regulation May be the Most Repressive Yet

Indonesia is the latest government to propose a  legal framework to coerce social media platforms, apps, and other online service providers to accept local jurisdiction over their content and users’ data policies and practices.


5 December: ITE law poses threat to 99% of Indonesia’s internet users: SAFEnet

According to SAFEnet, this is because 99% of Indonesians have access to social media platforms, which have been used as evidence in the prosecution of ITE cases.

23 October: Hikers to be reported to police for taking nude pictures on Mount Gede

The Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park management said they were planning to report two male hikers to the police for allegedly taking nude photos of themselves within the park. The two could possibly be charged under the Electronic Information and Transactions Law or the Pornography Law.

02 October: Man arrested for allegedly photoshopping picture of Ma’ruf Amin with Japanese porn star

Sulaiman Marpaung was arrested by National Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) for allegedly photoshopping and posting a picture of Vice President Ma’ruf Amin photoshopped next to Japanese porn star Shigeo Tokuda. The photo went viral in Facebook. He was charged under Article 28 of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) law in accusation of provoking the hatred through social media.

19 September: North Sumatra woman arrested for allegedly defaming national flag, president

A 28-year-old woman in North Sumatra was arrested for allegedly uploading a video on her Instagram account showing her trampling, burning the Indonesian flag. The woman also allegedly uploaded a photo where she sprinkled cassava leaves and vegetable chunks on the photos of the President and the Vice-President. She has been detained and will face charges under the ITE law.

25 August: Fight for your freedom: Indonesian online civic space under siege

Digital rights and freedom watchdog SAFEnet reports in that civic space in Indonesia has been diminished. 3100 cases have been charged under the 2008 Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law under the President’s watch.

07 February: Jail term for sharing false info

Police detained Kazahra Tanzania for allegedly spreading false information, under the ITE law. In a Facebook post, she had advised residents to wear protective marks, stating that there was a man in the city from China who had been diagnosed with coronavirus. Upon learning the information was false, she took down her post and posted an apology.


5 September: Human rights lawyer Veronika Koman is charged with ITE, and other laws for ‘allegedly provoking Papuans’

The East Java Police has named human rights lawyer Veronica Koman a suspect for allegedly violating four different laws, including the 2008 Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law, by reportedly encouraging Papuans and West Papuans to riot.

11 July: Nuril case raises calls for amendment of ITE law

Baiq Nuril Maknun, convicted of defamation for reporting her alleged sexual harasser, has once again led to demands for a revision of the controversial Electronic Transaction and Information (ITE) Law to remove the catch-all clauses that were used in Nuril’s prosecution.


14 November:Baiq Nuril Maknu was charged under the ITE law for spreading a recording of sexually harassing calls from her boss

The Supreme Court found Baiq Nuril Maknun, a high school teacher, guilty of defaming Muslim, the former principal at the school, by spreading a recording of a reportedly sordid phone call between the two of them. In a controversial verdict that has incriminated a victim of sexual harassment, the court ruled that the 37-year-old must serve a six-month sentence and pay a Rp 500 million (US$33,749) fine after being found guilty of violating Article 27 of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law.

Blasphemy Law (Article 156a of the Indonesian Criminal Code)

Article 156a had its origins in a presidential decree in 1965 signed by President Soekarno to complement the blasphemy article in Indonesia’s Criminal Code. The decree was issued to secure support from Islamic parties following a “unilateral action” by Soekarno’s main ally at that time, the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

The blasphemy law criminalises “any person who in public deliberately expresses his/her feelings or engages in actions that in principle is hostile and considered as abuse or defamation of a religion embraced in Indonesia.

“It is often used to prosecute and imprison members of religious minorities, and most importantly, has been “weaponised,” as seen in Ahok and Meliana’s case.  The Ahmadiyya religious community has tried to challenge the blasphemy law, saying that it has been used to file racially charged intentions, but the case was dismissed. Attempts to widen the scope of the blasphemy law is now underway, with the drafting of the “Religious Rights Protection Bill.”

The Indonesian Criminal Code can be accessible at the link below:



5 July: Fortnite to be banned over blasphemous gameplay, Sandiaga says

Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno plans to ban the popular video game Fortnite, arguing that one of the battle royale game’s objectives is to demolish a building resembling the Kaaba, a holy site for Muslims.

3 July: Indonesian Broadcasting Commission bans 42 songs from being played before 10 p.m.

The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) has prohibited radio stations from playing 42 songs before 10 p.m, claiming their lyrics were considered “immoral”.

14 June: Indonesia seeks to revive colonial-era lese majeste law

Last week, the Law and Human Rights Ministry and the House of Representatives discussed placing a bill to revise the Criminal Code back in the House’s National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) for this year. The deliberation of the bill was postponed in 2019 following mass student protests in Jakarta and other regions in response to many of its provisions.

20 April: Indonesian man claiming to be 26th prophet in Islam charged with blasphemy: National Police

The National Police (Polri) has identified an Indonesian man who is believed to be out of the country as a suspect for allegedly uploading blasphemous videos online, with the man also claiming to be a prophet.

19 April: Indonesian Muslims bay for Christian YouTuber’s arrest

Islamic groups in Indonesia have requested that an exiled Christian YouTuber be charged with blasphemy and extradited because of posts on his channel. If convicted of blasphemy in Indonesia, a person can face up to five years in prison.

24 February: Indonesian medical workers charged with washing dead body

4 male health workers charged with blasphemy for bathing deceased female COVID-19 A group of Indonesian activists have launched an online petition calling on authorities to drop blasphemy charges laid against four medical workers for bathing a dead body.

22 February: Jailed West Sumatra man posted blasphemous content online due to heartbreak: police

A man in Serdang Bedagai, West Sumatra was arrested for allegedly posting blasphemous content online, which police say was uploaded due to his frustration over getting dumped in the name of religion.

22 February: Are Indonesia’s “rubber” laws limiting freedom of speech? 

Indonesian President Joko (Jokowi) Widodo this month called upon Indonesia’s military and police leadership to “improve supervision to ensure that the implementation of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law can be in compliance with the principle of accountability and provide the public sense of justice”.


22 September: Seeking a Viable Alternative to Indonesia’s Blasphemy Laws

The blasphemy law has its negative effect on Indonesia society through-provoking social discrimination, group violation, and it has suppressed the freedom of expression of individuality

10 June: Indonesians remain sensitive to perceived blasphemy: YLBHI

According to Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, at least 38 cases of alleged blasphemy were reported to police or other institutions across 16 provinces in the first five months of 2020.

06 February: Indonesia’s Blasphemy Laws in the Headlines With Acquittal

A mental illness Indonesian woman was charged of blasphemy for taking a dog into a mosque.


3 April: Blasphemy cases more than double in 2018, compared to 2017

2018 saw 25 reported blasphemy cases compared to only nine cases in 2017. Prior to 2018, there were only single-figure number of cases per year on average since the law was introduced in 1965.

26 January: ‘Ahok’ Case Highlights Indonesia’s Blasphemy Law

The case of former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama or ‘Ahok’ has raised attention towards the country’s controversial blasphemy laws. Ahok was found guilty of blasphemy after arguing that one should not vote for a candidate based on religious beliefs.


23 August: Indonesia’s blasphemy law claims another victim

A Chinese Buddhist woman was charged for insulting Islam after she complained about the volume of the mosque’s call to prayer.

COVID-19 policies and Cases

The Government of Indonesia (GoI) has placed policy responses to support the economic downturn due to the pandemic. The packages range from incentives for the health workers, stimulus for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and social assistances including conditional cash transfers or Program Keluarga Harapan (PKH), ration cards or Kartu Sembako and conditional-unemployment benefit or Kartu Prakerja. Finance Minister stated that the GoI is making effort to reach out to the most vulnerable and impacted group in the population, particularly women and the poorest.

Country policy responses Indonesia:—asia/—ro-bangkok/—ilo-jakarta/documents/publication/wcms_755786.pdf

COVID-19 policies and Cases


2 July: Analysis: Indonesia looked to India on lockdown, but didn’t adopt its policy

The scenes in Indonesia’s hospitals in the past week have been eerily similar to those in India two months ago – hospital corridors jammed with COVID-19 patients and frantic families trying to find oxygen to treat sick loved-ones.

1 July: Pandemic pretext for police repression: Kontras

Rights group the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has criticized the National Police for brutality and digital repression in a report released on Wednesday, a day before Bhayangkara Day, on which the police commemorated their 75th anniversary.

21 June: Indonesia sticks with ‘micro-lockdown’ amid COVID-19 tsunami

Indonesia announces stricter COVID-19 restrictions amid public pressure Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto announced on Monday the tightening of the micro-scale public activity restrictions (PPKM Mikro) following a meeting with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

17 June: Hundreds of vaccinated Indonesian health workers get COVID-19, dozens in hospital

More than 350 doctors and medical workers have caught COVID-19 in Indonesia despite being vaccinated with Sinovac and dozens have been hospitalised, officials said, as concerns grow about the efficacy of some vaccines against more infectious variants.

17 June: Indonesia reports highest daily COVID-19 rise in four months with 12,600 new cases

Health authorities reported 12,624 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the highest daily rise since February, bringing the total number to 1.95 million.

11 June: Indonesia rules out large-scale restrictions for post-Idul Fitri COVID-19 surge

The government has opted out of imposing large-scale restrictions to curb a recent COVID-19 case spike in the country, while healthcare services in several regions have been overwhelmed by patients.

3 June: EXCLUSIVE COVID-19 far more widespread in Indonesia than official data show: studies

The country of 270 million has recorded 1.83 million positive cases, but epidemiologists have long believed the true scale of the spread has been obscured by a lack of testing and contact tracing.

28 May: Indonesia jails banned group’s hardline leader for COVID breaches

Indonesia jails banned group’s hardline leader for COVID breaches An Indonesian court has jailed hardline religious leader Rizieq Shihab for eight months and fined him 20 million Indonesian rupiah ($1,400) for holding sermons and other gatherings that drew tens of thousands of followers in breach of the country’s coronavirus rules after his return last year from self-imposed exile.

11 May: Late incentives haunt medical workers deployed at COVID-19 frontlines 

Late incentives haunt medical workers deployed at COVID-19 frontlines The Indonesian government drew criticism for failing to disburse timely incentives to medical workers stationed at COVID-19 frontlines after a nurse was allegedly removed from her position as punishment for publicly raising the issue

6 May: Indonesia airport scammers reused Covid nasal swab tests on passengers, police say

Indonesia airport scammers reused Covid nasal swab tests on passengers, police say Several employees of Kimia Farma, a major pharmaceutical company in Indonesia, were charged for washing and reusing antigen nasal swab test kits and suing them among passengers at the Kualanamu International Airport in Medan, North Sumatra

5 January: Jakarta Deputy Talks about Fines for Rejecting Covid-19 Vaccination

Jakarta Deputy Governor Ahmad Riza Patria on Monday reminds people that the government will be legally permitted to impose fines against people who refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19 despite meeting all of the requirements as a recipient.

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