Jakarta: World’s third largest democracy, Indonesia, has passed a bill that will send Indonesians to jail if they criticise national politicians. The new law has come into force on Thursday, though was passed last month as the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, had refused to sign off on the controversial legislation. The president does not have veto power over the bill, however, it can be challenged at the Constitutional Court.
A report by AFP quoted critics as saying that the protesters across the Southeast Asian archipelago can now be jailed for demonstrating protests in future, as they did earlier against the bill. The protesters had staged a rally on Thursday, outside the Constitutional Court in Jakarta. The bill has already received three petitioners challenging it, but it would be a time taking procedure, a court spokesperson said.
Criticising the new law, Sebastian Salang from the monitoring group Indonesian Parliament Watchdog, said “How does the law define disrespect? It is not clearly explained and could be loosely interpreted as long as it fits the lawmakers’ interest to silence critics.”
The government of Indonesia had last year issued a law to allow the country to ban groups that oppose its official state ideology. Widodo had called for drug dealers to be shot if they resist arrest.