While Baiq Nuril, the schoolteacher who was sentenced to six months in prison for recording her boss’ sexual harassment on tape, has exhausted all of her legal options to appeal in court, she may still be saved from having to serve her sentence if she is granted amnesty from the president.
Previously, while Baiq was still filing a judicial review of her sentence with the Supreme Court, President Joko Widodo said he would consider giving her amnesty if the review failed. The court this week rejected Baiq’s judicial review and it appears President Jokowi will be true to his word.
Minister of Justice and Human Rights (Menkumham) Yasonna Laoly said that the president will grant Baiq amnesty imminently.
“As soon as possible. Tonight, we will review the legal considerations. The State Secretary (Pratikno) and the president are giving this their serious attention,” Yasonna told reporters at his office yesterday evening, as quoted by Kompas.
According to Yasonna, the administration will have to consult with the House of Representatives (DPR) about giving amnesty to Baiq, but he says the DPR is backing the president in this matter.
DPR Speaker Bambang Soesatyo also confirmed parliament’s stance when he said he had urged Jokowi to grant Baiq amnesty as well.
Rights groups, including Amnesty International and the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), have also condemned Baiq’s sentence and called for Jokowi to grant Baiq amnesty. They are also pressing lawmakers to pass a bill to curb sexual violence against women — which has been stalled in parliament since last year — which would give sexual harassment victims like Baiq more comprehensive legal protections.
Baiq’s case first began while she was working as a teacher at a high school in Mataram on the island of Lombok. She says that she was verbally sexually harassed with indecent conversation by her school’s principal several times before she decided to record him doing so during a phone conversation back in 2012.
When the recording was made public (the audio was uploaded not by Baiq but one of her colleagues instead), the principal lost his position. But in retaliation, he filed a criminal report over the recording for violating Indonesia’s Law on Electronic Transactions and Information (UU ITE), which criminalizes any electronic message or communication that could be considered slanderous or immoral (and which has been criticized innumerable times as a tool to promote censorship, limit free speech and protect those in power by criminalizing those who speak out against them).
Although found not guilty in the district court, the Supreme Court overturned that decision, ruling that Baiq was guilty of “distributing and/or transmitting or making accessible electronic information and/or electronic documents that have contents that violate morality.”
When the Supreme Court finally published the official court document pertaining to her case in December, it became apparent that the court ignored the sexual harassment aspect of her case, focusing instead on the principal’s honor.
“Because of the actions of the defendant, the career of the plaintiff, Haji Muslim, as a principal came to an end, his extended family was shamed and his honor was violated,” reads a passage in the much criticized court decision.
For that, Baiq was sentenced to six months in jail as well as a fine of IDR500 million (US$33,500). A crowdfunding campaign to pay her fine has raised IDR375 million so far.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court rejected Baiq’s judicial review, saying that the review, which was based on a mistake made by the MA judges adjudicating her appeal in 2018, was groundless
There have been no reports so far on when Baiq will have to start serving her sentence.