Indonesia is a major country of focus for CLD, and we are currently involved in a major project working with local stakeholders in Indonesia to help them implement and promote the Act on Public Information Transparency, which came into force in May 2010. The project is designed to boost the right to information in Indonesia by synergising strong demand with efficient supply.
The first phase of the project ran from June 2011 until March 2012. CLD partnered on this project with a number of Indonesian organisations, including PATTIRO, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), Yayasan 28, Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) and Yayasan SET, as well as working closely with the Central Information Commission and other public bodies.
Between June 22 and June 29 2011, CLD and AJI co-hosted a series of workshops in Jakarta, Surabaya and Lampung. These meetings, which were attended by journalists and representatives from several major civil-society initiatives, were designed to educate and inform participants about their rights under Indonesia’s Act on Public Information Transparency, as well as to provide procedural information on how to go about making information requests, and how to deal with obstruction by public agencies. Participants were also able to hear from representatives from the regional Information Commissions, who offered practical guidance on how to maximize their chance of success when seeking information from public authorities.
In preparation for the workshops CLD, in cooperation with AJI, prepared a manual on the right to information in Indonesia which can be accessed both in English and in Indonesian. To further assist in spreading awareness of the right to information, CLD has also produced a series of brochures on the right to information, which were printed in English (1, 2, 3) and in Indonesian (1 front, 1 back, 2 front, 2 back, 3 front, 3 back).
The next stage of the project was to have the workshop participants file at least 10 information requests with public authorities. The participants committed to following up on these requests, with CLD offering financial and technical support to facilitate this. CLD and AJI held a follow-up conference for 20 of the participants on April 24-25 in Jakarta, during which they presented reports of their experiences.
Another aspect of Phase I was to work with local civil society to galvanise opposition to proposed secrecy legislation whose passage would negatively impact the right to information. CLD supported the SET Foundation in conducting an Analysis of the draft State Intelligence Bill. On 5 December 2011 CLD held a one-day conference in Jakarta on the subject of government secrecy, in order to promote discussion of Indonesia’s draft Law on State Secrecy. The meeting was co-hosted with Yayasan SET, and included presentations by CLD Executive Director Toby Mendel and CLD Legal Officer Michael Karanicolas, as well as a variety of prominent Indonesian experts. The general consensus put forward by the participants was that the draft Law on State Secrecy threatens to undermine many of the progressive rights established by the Law on Transparency of Public Information, and while it is not necessarily illegitimate to have a state secrecy law, this particular version is problematically vague and unnecessary due to the protections of classified information already found in Indonesia’s transparency law. CLD and Yayasan SET have also published a Report outlining the problems with the draft Secrecy Law: A Burst of Sunlight but Darkness Looms.
On March 2012 CLD held an international conference in Jakarta to launch two major publications:
Implementation of the Right to Information: An Assessment of Three Indonesian Public Authorities (in Indonesian) and Interpretation of Exceptions to the Right to Information: Experiences in Indonesia and Elsewhere (in Indonesian). Speakers at the conference included András Jóri, former Hungarian Information Commissioner, Ahmad Alamsyah Saragih, Indonesian Central Information Commission, General Saut Nasution from the Indonesian National Police Headquarters, Professor Takdir Rahmadi, Supreme Court Judge and Tara Hidayat, Indonesian Presidential Task Force.
On 8 March 2012 CLD along with ICEL conducted a seminar on RTI for Indonesia’s judiciary at the invitation of the Supreme Court. The seminar featured a presentation by one of Australia’s foremost jurists, the Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG, and was attended by representatives of the Supreme Court, the National Police headquarters, and several information commissions along with numerous other judges, who travelled from across Indonesia for the workshop.
After Phase I was successfully concluded, CLD obtained further support from the Open Society Foundations to carry out a second phase, which commenced with a stakeholders meeting on November 26 in Jakarta between CLD and local partners PATTIRO, AJI and ICEL. CLD is also partnering with Christiana Chelsia Chan of Yayasan 28. CLD’s activities that week also included meetings with representatives from Indonesia’s Central Information Commission as well as several regional Information Commissioners, as well as leading media figures Bambang Harymurti and Lin Neumann.
Phase II, now underway, includes several components. On the demand side, the project includes initiatives designed to spur demand for access to information including awareness an raising SMS-message campaign, a media blitz, and the production of a feature video on the right to information.
As part of the project’s demand-side intervention, CLD conducted a training session from February 6-8 2013 in Jakarta. The event featured participants from several Indonesian provinces, including West Java, South Sumatera, West Nusa Tenggara and North Sulawesi, who were trained in RTI. The trainees will now become local RTI experts, and conduct follow up trainings in their home provinces for local civil society groups. Those groups will then be expected to lodge a minimum of ten requests for information related to the areas in which they work, while the trainers will provide support to them through this process.
These activities are complimented by supply-side interventions to build capacity among public authorities, including collaborating with ICEL to develop a user-friendly training manual for information officers. This manual was used to conduct a training of public officials on May 29-30.
Another aspect of Phase II involves a collaboration with KontraS to assess and improve the public information capacities of Indonesia’s national-level commissions.
Together, these combined approaches aim to harness the potential of Indonesia’s RTI law, and the enthusiasm of Indonesia’s civil society to spur positive change, in order to turn Indonesia into an RTI success story.