Showing posts with label defamation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label defamation. Show all posts
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Indonesia: Turning Critics into Criminal (HRW 2010 Report)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


The HRW 2010 report released earlier this May focused on Indonesia’s defamation law. According to the Human Rights Watch’s press release:

The 91-page report, "Turning Critics into Criminals: The Human Rights Consequences of Criminal Defamation Law in Indonesia," documents recent cases in which criminal libel, slander, and "insult" laws have been used to silence public criticism. Criminal defamation charges have been filed against individuals after they held public demonstrations protesting corruption, wrote letters to the editor complaining about fraud, registered formal complaints with the authorities, and published news reports about sensitive subjects.

In an SMH op-ed published today, the author of the report argue:

Not everyone in Indonesia who airs critical facts or opinions ends up accused of a criminal offence. But the arbitrary enforcement of such laws, and even the mere threat of enforcement, has a damaging chilling effect on civil society, the media, and private citizens' willingness to express critical thoughts or opinions, especially online.

The cover page of the report pictured Prita Mulyasari, the housewife sent to trial under the defamation law for complaining for a bad health service she had received from a hospital. In my earlier op-ed, I emphasize the need for an efficient and effective out of court settlement in health cases, such as that involving Prita’s:

In a market-based solution, the parties stay out of court. If the health service provider does something wrong, they pay the patient and the patient can agree not to sue at a price. If providers don't do anything wrong, they ask the patient to issue a public apology and a sum of money to the extent that they can pay. The cost expended in this mechanism is much lower compared to going to court. This mechanism requires the government to reduce information asymmetry in the market as parties can only negotiate when the evidence is available.

This report sends a very strong message to the international community and create pressures to the government that a reform is urgent. Click on the image below to download the full report:


Related posts:
Bringing patients to court may not be efficient
Housewife on trial for defamation

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Prita in New York Times

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Prita's story is now in New York Times:
PRITA MULYASARI became famous, as her lawyer put it, for going from “e-mail to jail.”
Her ordeal began when she sent an e-mail message complaining about the poor treatment she received at a hospital to 20 relatives, friends and co-workers. The message, forwarded from one mailing list to another, eventually fell into the hands of the hospital’s lawyers, who sued for defamation. In no time, Ms. Mulyasari, 32, a mother of two infants, found herself sharing a jail cell with murderers and facing six years in prison, seemingly yet another ordinary Indonesian caught up in one of the world’s most corrupt legal systems.

This will surely raises Omni Hospital's Public Relation budget. I have argued in my op-ed that bringing patients to court is not a good way of settling problems. The monetary damage caused by Prita's initial email to Omni's reputation is insignificant compared to the public relations disaster following her detention and trials. The public fund is used for trials and prosecution, Omni spent a lot of money (and time) to pay their lawyers and finance PR campaigns and the house of representative, the ministry of health and Tangerang mayor spent considerable time to act as a mediator to the case. In the end, nobody wins.

If only it had been settled out of court, we could have allocated these resources elsewhere.

Hat Tip to Rumi

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Housewife on trial for defamation

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Prita Mulyasari, the housewife detained for sending letter about her experience of (alleged) medical malpractice will undergo her first criminal trial tomorrow. Prita was brought to both civil and criminal suit by PT.Sarana Meditama Internasional Cs (presumably the legal incorporation of RS Omni where she was treated). She had lost the civil suit, but was nevertheless detained by the police for the criminal prossecution.

If I were the plaintiff's lawyer, I would recommend to revoke my client's criminal offense complain to the police. With internet activists standing behind her, it would be a bad move to go on with criminal proceeding. The reputational damage caused by media blow-up does not worth the penny the hospital spent for litigation costs and public relations costs.

Tanggerang District Court website has an op-ed column about this case.