The Supreme Court’s decision to send an Indonesian high school teacher named Baiq Nuril to prison for six months for recording audio of her principal making explicit and inappropriate sexual remarks towards her has been decried as a grave injustice and highlighted the flaws in Indonesia’s draconian Information and Electronic Transactions Law (UU ITE), 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.
When the Supreme Court came to the decision last month — overturning a district court ruling that found Baiq not guilty of UU ITE violation — it ruled that Baiq was guilty of “distributing and/or transmitting or making accessible electronic information and/or electronic documents that have contents that violate morality.”
But when the Supreme Court finally published the official court document pertaining to the case on Friday, it became apparent that the court ignored the sexual harassment aspect of the 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 document, as picked up by CNN Indonesia today.
Joko Jumadi, Baiq’s lawyer, says he and his client are going to start work on filing a judicial review — the only legal avenue left for a defendant in a criminal trial after a Supreme Court ruling — which was pending the release of the aforementioned court document.
“We had expected the [document to read] as such, the ruling and their deliberations did not make sense,” he said.
“The thing that brought shame to the family is the action of Muslim himself.”
A judicial review would require Baiq and her legal representatives to submit new evidence in court. It appeared that they have been preparing for this eventuality as Baiq reported Muslim to the police for sexual harassment soon after the Supreme Court sentenced her to prison, with his possible guilty verdict potentially serving as new evidence to exonerate Baiq.
President Joko Widodo is just one of many Indonesians who have voiced their concern over this controversial case, promising that he would look into giving Baiq a presidential pardon should her judicial review fail.
Baiq, a teacher from Mataram on the island of Lombok, says she had been verbally sexually harassed with indecent conversation from 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 (Baiq did not upload the audio online herself — her friend did), the principal lost his post. But in retaliation, he filed a criminal report over the recording that Baiq may now have to spend six months in jail just for violation of UU ITE.
Although Baiq was found not guilty at the district court level in July, prosecutors appealed directly to the Supreme Court, which overturned the lower court verdict and sentenced the teacher to six months in jail as well as a fine of IDR500 million (US$33,500).