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IFJ welcomes court's rejection of libel case

(IFJ/IFEX) - July 15, 2009 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes a decision by the South Jakarta Supreme Court to reject a libel suit against local newspaper Koran Tempo by Islamic Troop commander Munarman.

Munarman reportedly filed the civil suit in relation to images published in Koran Tempo on June 3 last year depicting the commander strangling a man during a rally on June 1 at the Monas National Monument in Jakarta.

The judge dismissed the suit on the basis that Munarman's claims were unsatisfactory, and said Koran Tempo had acted in accordance with the 1999 Press Law, local news reports said.

"The judge's decision to consider the complaint against Koran Tempo through the lens of Indonesia's Press Law is a positive sign that the issues of defamation and libel can be dealt with adequately through civil law," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

Complaints against media workers in Indonesia can be filed under Articles 311 and 317 of the Criminal Code as well as the civil Press Law.

Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI), an IFJ affiliate, has campaigned strongly for complaints against the media to be dealt with under the Press Law, rather than the Criminal Code.

However, criminal defamation and libel cases continue to be filed despite a 2005 Supreme Court decision to set jurisprudence of the Press Law for the settlement of all media disputes.

"It is encouraging that the Indonesian judiciary has chosen in this case to refer to the Press Law, reinforcing the non-criminal nature of the complaint," Park said.

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