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New decree is ‘chilling flashback’ to repressive era

Responding to the disproportionate measures in the new anti-radicalism decree for civil servants, Usman Hamid, Executive Director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said:

“This decree against so-called ‘radical actions’ will do virtually nothing to curb radicalism. This is a chilling flashback to the New Order era.

“The decree is imprecise, arbitrary and overly broad. For example, it prohibits ‘liking’ a social media post deemed critical of our national motto if that post contains hate speech, but hate speech is never defined.”

“These are blanket prohibitions that have nothing to do with national security, public order or public health. The decree should be revised in line with international standards, and Indonesia’s own constitution, to ensure that it protects the right to freedom of expression.”


In November 2019, a Joint Ministerial Decree on the Management of Radicalism to Strengthen National Insight was signed by six ministers and five heads of government agencies. It agreed to establish a task force to manage “radical actions” among civil servants, defined as actions that are “intolerant, anti-ideological (to) Pancasila”, anti the Unitarian State of the Republic of Indonesia, and causing national disintegration.”

The task force shall receive reports of infractions committed by public servants and issue recommendations on how the reported infraction should be responded to. The list of violations covered by the Joint Ministerial Decree include expressing opinion verbally or in writing through social media that constitutes hate speech against Pancasila (the five founding principles of Indonesia), the Constitution, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (the state motto, which means Unity in Diversity), the Unitarian State of the Republic of Indonesia, and the Government.

The prohibition also extends to “likes, dislike, love, retweet or comment in social media”. Moreover, participation in organizations “believed to be directed to insulting, inciting, provoking, and hating Pancasila, the Constitution, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, the Unitarian State of the Republic of Indonesia and the Government”. There is no definition of “hate speech, insulting, provoking, or hating”.

Indonesia has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and adopted its Constitution to protect the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Any restriction to these rights must be provided by law and necessary and proportionate to achieve a legitimate aim, such as protecting national security or public health.