Students protest against Criminal Code Bill in Merauke

Criminal Code Bill
Demonstrators from the Indonesian Student Alliance of Merauke Regency, Papua had an argument with security forces on Jalan Brawijaya, Merauke - Jubi/Emanuel Riberu

Merauke, Jubi – Hundreds of Merauke student members of the Indonesian Student Alliance protested against a number of articles in the revision to the Criminal Code (RKUHP) in front of the Merauke Regional Legislation Council (DPRD) Office on Wednesday, July 6, 2022.

The students refused to enter the office and asked the lawmakers to come out and meet them on the side of Brawijaya Street. The students persisted while the security forces directed them to go into the DPRD building.

Deputy Chair I of the Merauke DPRD Almarotus Solikah and a number of legislators eventually met the students on Brawijaya Street. After negotiating for about two hours, the students agreed to discuss with the lawmakers in the meeting room of the Merauke DPRD.

Indonesian Student Alliance coordinator Brampi Yopi Betaubun said their action was to reject a number of articles in the controversial Criminal Code Bill. They urged the Merauke DPRD to submit their demands to the House of Representatives.

“Our rejection is based on the old draft of the 2019 RKUHP, which contains several problematic articles. The new draft is currently being deliberated by the House and the government but the public cannot access it yet,” Yopi said. “Therefore, we urge the Merauke DPRD to convey our aspirations to the House to open the new RKUHP for the public. We want to know whether the problematic articles have been revised or not,” he continued.

The RKUHP, which deliberation was postponed in 2019 following massive student protests, had been rediscussed by Commission III of the House and the government. Spokesperson for the Merauke Region Indonesian Student Alliance Andarias Labobar questioned the lack of transparency in the recent deliberation.

Labobar said there were 14 controversial issues in the 2019 RKUHP, including customary criminal law, death penalty, and restrictions on freedom of speech through attacks on the dignity of the president and vice president. The House and the government have indeed revised the 2019 RKUHP but the changes to the problematic articles are not yet known to the public.

“Today, we urge the government to make the deliberation of the RKUHP transparent and let the public access the new draft,” said Labobar. “We also demand the government to discuss problematic articles in the RKUHP, especially those that have the potential to limit the people’s freedom of speech,” he added.

Meanwhile, Almarotus Solikah said the aspirations of Merauke students on the Criminal Code Bill were accepted, and would then be forwarded to Commission III of the House in Senayan, Jakarta. “The Merauke DPRD speaker, Benjamin Latumahina, is now in Jakarta. We have forwarded the student’s aspirations to him. Hopefully, he can follow up on the matter in Jakarta,” said Solikah. (*)

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