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High court allows media to publish election news during campaign-free period

(AJI/IFEX) - Indonesia's Constitutional Court announced on 3 July 2009 that the media would be allowed to publish any election-related news during the campaign-free period between 5 and 7 July.

The ruling was in response to a judicial review filed by seven media outlets requesting the court to scrap Article 47(5) and Article 57(1) and(2) of the 2008 Presidential and Vice Presidential Election Law.

The constitutional court's nine judges, headed by court chairman Mahfud M. D., were unanimous in their decision to grant the review.

"Article 47(5), as well as Article 57(1) and (2) of Law No. 42/2008 no longer have legal power," Mahfud told the court.

Part 5 of Article 47 stipulates that media outlets are banned from publishing news, advertisements or any other material concerning candidates that could place them at an advantage or otherwise over their opponents.

Parts 1 and 2 of Article 57 stipulate the closure of media outlets that violate the law.

The three days prior to voting day is considered a campaign-free period when all presidential candidates and supporters are prohibited from engaging in any type of political campaigning. The election was held on 8 July.

The court chairman said the publishing of news is in line with the people's right to information.

"Broadcasting news related to the presidential candidates will, in fact, help the voters obtain information about the candidates' track records," Mahfud said.

"Tempo" magazine, "Tempo" daily, "The Jakarta Post", "Jurnal Nasional", 68H radio station, Vivanews.com and the Voice of Human Rights radio network comprise the seven media outlets that called for the review.

The Press Legal Aid Foundation's Hendrayana, who is also the lawyer for the seven outlets, praised the Constitutional Court for "granting a victory for press freedom."

"We hope legislators do not pass any other articles that may kill the spirit of press freedom," he told "The Jakarta Post".

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