The House of Representatives agreed on Thursday to support President Joko Widodo's plan to grant an amnesty to Baiq Nuril. (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari)

House of Representatives Supports Jokowi's Amnesty Plan for Baiq Nuril

BY : ANTARA & NUR YASMIN

JULY 25, 2019

Jakarta. The House of Representatives has agreed on a unanimous support for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's plan to grant an amnesty to Baiq Nuril Maknun, a victim of sexual harassment who is facing six months of jail time after being charged with violating Indonesia's draconian internet law.

The support from the parliament may pave the way for a landmark amnesty that would advance the cause of women's rights in Indonesia.  

The lawmakers, agreeing with the majority of public opinion, said they were of the opinion that Baiq Nuril, who had exhausted all of her legal options, was the true victim in the case.

"All ten of the House factions agreed with the president that Baiq Nuril should be given an amnesty," Erma Suryani Ranik, the deputy chairperson of the House's Commission III, which oversees law and human rights, said on Thursday.

A plenary session chaired by the parliament's deputy speaker, Utut Adianto, approved Jokowi's amnesty recommendation right away on Thursday.

According to regulation, the president only needs to consult with the Supreme Court before offering amnesty or a presidential pardon. But this was the first time an Indonesian president had intended to grant amnesty to an individual instead of a group in a non-political case.

Jokowi wrote to the House of Representatives' speaker Bambang Soesatyo last week asking for a parliamentary response on his plan to grant the pardon.

Baiq Nuril is a teacher from Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara who was sentenced to six months in jail after she documented sexual harassment by her employer. 

"Baiq Nuril has gained the sympathy and solidarity of the public, who thinks the sentence imposed on her is unfair. What she did [recording a lewd phone call from her employer] was only to protect her dignity as a woman and a mother," Jokowi said in his letter.

Baiq Nuril was sexually harassed by the principal of a high school in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, when she worked there as a teacher in 2012. Feeling insecure, she recorded one of his improper phone conversations with her.

The recording later leaked out after she shared it with friends to convince them of her story. This prompted the principal to report her to police, who charged her with defamation.

Baiq Nuril was acquitted in the district court but found guilty in the higher courts. She fought the decision all the way to the Supreme Court to no avail. 

Baiq Nuril thanked the president and the parliament for defending her rights on Thursday. She expects to be able to return to her hometown immediately from Jakarta, where she had been fighting her case.

"I hope no one will experience what I have experienced. If it happens to you, you must have the courage to report it," Baiq Nuril said.

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