Indonesia: Woman jailed for recording her harassment must receive an immediate amnesty

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo must immediately grant an amnesty to Baiq Nuril Maknun, a mother of three who was imprisoned for recording her boss sexually harassing her, Amnesty International Indonesia said today.

The House has finished its review of President Jokowi’s amnesty proposal for Nuril, which was submitted to parliament last week as required under Indonesia’s 1954 Law on Amnesty and Abolition. The House, during a plenary meeting on Thursday, unanimously agreed and recommended that Jokowi grant Nuril an amnesty.

“The path is clear to grant Nuril an amnesty, and the President should act immediately. This would be a historic victory for victims of sexual abuse in Indonesia. Having already shown huge courage in challenging her boss who harassed her, Nuril has had to fight this immense injustice for more than two years. She should not have spent a single day in jail, and must now totally be exonerated,” Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid said.

“The President made the right decision by standing on Nuril’s side. To formally grant her an amnesty would send a strong message to the police, prosecutors and courts that in the future they should protect victims of sexual harassment instead of criminalizing and sending them to jail,” Usman added.

Amnesty International Indonesia has been working with a coalition of NGOs including Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet) to campaign for Nuril the past two years, including calling on the President to grant her an amnesty.

Nuril is not only a victim of sexual harassment, but also a victim of abusive articles in the country’s draconian Electronic Information and Transactions Law (ITE), a law that has frequently been used to silence peaceful critics in Indonesia.

“Nuril’s case showed the harm and the absurdity contained in the ITE Law. This is the right time to revise it radically, particularly the provisions on defamation and blasphemy. Nuril’s amnesty could become a victory for women – as well as for freedom of expression,” Usman said.

“Nuril and her family have suffered enough. The President should also ensure that she and her family receive reparations for the gross injustice they have suffered. It is the minimum this government can do to honour a brave woman, whom some were desperate to make a victim – but has become a hero.”

Background

On 17 March 2015 Nuril’s boss, the principal of senior high school where she worked as a contract bookkeeper, reported her to the police for defaming him after a recording she made of him sexually harassing her went viral on social media. It was not Nuril who shared it on social media, but one of her friends.

For two years she was repeatedly summoned for questioning at the police station in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, during the investigation. On 27 March 2017, she came to the police for further questioning together with her 5-year old son. Even though she was not accompanied by a lawyer, the police named her a suspect and immediately arrested her, with her young son present.

The school fired Nuril. Her husband also lost his job because he had to take care of their three children while Nuril was behind bars.

On May 4 2017, she stood trial at Mataram District Court. Prosecutors asked the panel of judges to imprison her for six months for “committing a crime by deliberately distributing an information or electronic document containing indecent material.” Prosecutors also wanted her to pay a fine of IDR 500 million.

The court found her innocent and released her, but prosecutors appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which overturned the verdict and sentenced her to six months in jail on 26 September 2018. She also had to pay a IDR500 million fine. Nuril continued her fight for justice by filing a case review to the Supreme Court, but to no avail. On 19 November 2018, she reported her boss to the police but the law enforcement body refused to probe the sexual harassment allegations.

Nuril’s case caused uproar, leading to President Jokowi’s decision to take action and support an amnesty.