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The New Criminal Code is Very Democratic


By: Farrell Haroon Jabar )*

The newest National Criminal Code has a vision and mission to prioritize democratization in a rule of law and continue to guarantee freedom of opinion by all elements of society when they want to channel their criticism of the government.

Recognizing the conditions and situations that all Indonesian people have, that this nation does have a character with a high level of diversity, the People’s Representative Council of the Republic of Indonesia (DPR RI) together with the Government of the Republic of Indonesia continue to strive to bridge various different points of view in forming the Law. -Laws (UU), including during the entire process of forming the Draft Criminal Code (RUU KUHP) which has now been officially ratified to become the newest National Criminal Code.

With the efforts of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia together with the Indonesian Parliament to bridge all the differences of opinion that occur in Indonesian society which are indeed very diverse, the ratification of the National Criminal Code is indeed a big step in realizing a democratic rule of law.

Related to this, Deputy Minister of Law and Human Rights (Wamenkumham), Prof. Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej confirmed that the National Criminal Code (KUHP), which was just promulgated on January 2, 2023, is indeed very democratic.

Not without reason, the article according to him refers to one of the visions and missions when the National Criminal Code was formed, namely the democratization of criminal law in Indonesia. The Deputy Minister of Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia also stressed that it was absolutely not true that the birth of the National Criminal Code was said to restrict freedom of opinion for anyone, as long as it was still within the correct rules and in accordance with the applicable provisions.

Furthermore, he revealed that what had been formulated by the drafters and drafters of the National Criminal Code had indeed referred to various decisions of the Constitutional Court (MK) which had been tested materially, both on articles relating to attacks on the dignity of the president and or vice president, to the articles regarding the spread of hatred.

In the same vein, the Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security (Menko Polhukam), Prof. Mahfud MD also said in his presentation that the latest Criminal Code was not created to limit freedom of expression and did not limit criticism by all elements of society against the government.

In fact, the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs also added that there were two strong reasons to be able to answer the accusation that it was as if the National Criminal Code was a legal product that was anti-democratic. First, according to him, the existence of regulations related to expressing opinions in public or criticizing the government itself had actually been regulated in the old Criminal Code.

So, this means that this regulation is not new at all and is not a special issue that has been raised in the National Criminal Code. In fact, according to Prof. Mahfud MD, what happens in society is not an attempt to provide criticism but rather an attack on the dignity of the president and/or vice president, but they take refuge in the phrase ‘freedom of opinion’.

Furthermore, the second reason why the newest National Criminal Code is not an anti-democratic legal system is because the implementation of the original legal system made by the nation’s children will take effect after a transition period which lasts for 3 (three) years since it was enacted at the end of 2022, so that it will actually fully applicable in 2025.

This means that the National Criminal Code will take effect when the government period led by the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, has also ended. So if there is still an opinion stating that it is as if the new Criminal Code is a product of the current government and is considered anti-criticism, then it is certain that all of these assumptions have been refuted because the National Criminal Code itself will be truly effective in the next government after President Jokowi’s era.

On another occasion, the Chairperson of the DPR RI, Puan Maharani, said that the National Criminal Code is an effort to have an open recodification of all criminal provisions and is able to be the answer to developments in today’s society. In fact, the Government of the Republic of Indonesia itself has already held discussions regarding changes to the old Criminal Code, a relic from the Dutch colonial era since 1963.

According to him, this change is very important because indeed the conditions and situations in Indonesia are very significantly different when compared to how the situations and conditions were during the independence period. Thus, the existence of the National Criminal Code is an effort to reform criminal law in the country.

The democratization that has so far existed in Indonesia, when people are able to freely express their criticism of the ongoing government’s performance will not be disturbed at all by the issuance of the National Criminal Code. The reason is that the National Criminal Code itself was made to further guarantee democratization in a rule-of-law country like in the country.

)* The author is a contributor to Nusantara Reading Room

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