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Indonesia: Law on Public Information in Force

(Apr. 30, 2010) On April 30, 2010, Indonesia's Law on Freedom of Information will come into effect; it was adopted in 2008. Under its provisions, public institutions, including government ministries, state agencies, and legislative and judicial institutions, are obligated to respond to information requests from members of the public. (Erwida Maulia, Public Information Law to Take Effect, JAKARTA POST, Apr. 29, 2010, available at

Agencies will be obliged to reveal any decisions they make; this provision of the Law covers decisions on policies, projects, expenditures, agreements with other organizations, and employee performance, if releasing that information is in the public interest. (Government Preparing Regulations on Better Public Access to Information, JAKARTA POST, Nov. 7, 2009, available at
.) The only exception is for the items considered to be state secrets. Those secrets include data on defense and security matters, business deals, and diplomatic negotiations. (Maulia, supra.)

Gatot Dewa Broto, of the Communications and Information Ministry, stated on April 29, 2010, that the Law will apply to all government institutions, including both central and regional bodies, together with political parties and non-governmental organizations if they take public funding. “We've issued today on our website a press statement on the enactment of the law to remind all public institutions that they must comply with the law,” he stated. (Id.) A hotline has been established that can be used to report violations of the Law. (Id.) Agencies and officials who intentionally withhold information that should be revealed will be subject to penalties including the possibility of a sentence of up to one year and/or a fine of up to the equivalent of US$520. Anyone who deliberately damages or destroys documents or records of public interest may be sentenced to prison for two years and a fine of up to the equivalent of about US$1,100. (Government Preparing Regulations on Better Public Access to Information, supra.)

According to Henry Subiakto, a Ministry advisor, so much time was allowed between the adoption of the Law and its implementation to give officials time to prepare to comply. He went on to state that it will “be a radical change in our country, as many government institutions currently provide information only because they have the right to tell the public, not because the public has the right to know.” (Id.)