Prohibits Journalists from Taking Video of Trial, Lemhannas Alumni: Judges Need to Learn Indonesian Again

Serang Regency, Banten Province, Media – Something strange and miraculous happened today, Tuesday, January 5, 2021, at the Serang District Court, Banten.  At that time, a trial was underway in a case of alleged document falsification and the inclusion of false information that was suspected of having the defendant LH, one of the directors of a light brick company (hebel) in Cikande, Serang Regency (1).  The trial which started at 4 pm was attended by no less than 20 journalists from various national and regional media.

When the trial was about to begin, one of the journalists’ representatives asked the Panel of Judges for permission to cover the trial.  The Chief Judge, Dr.  Erwantoni, SH, MH (2) stated that they allowed coverage by only taking static images, aka photos.

Judge Erwantoni argued that he was referring to the Supreme Court Regulation (Perma) Number 5 of 2020 concerning Trial Protocols and Security in a Court Environment.  According to him, the Perma states that visitors, including journalists, can only take photos, not take videos.

“Based on Perma No. 5 of 2020, journalists can cover but can only take photos before the trial begins, they may not take videos during the trial,” said Chief Judge Erwantoni, who has a doctorate.

Of course this was not acceptable to reporters.  However, out of respect for the courtroom and trial activities, journalists were forced to follow the “heretical” direction of the judge presiding over the trial of this case.  After the trial, the journalists asked for clarification from the Chief Judge, Erwantoni, regarding the prohibition of reporting by video recording.

The judge argued that he was only carrying out the rules that had been made by his leadership, namely that journalists were not allowed to cover videos in the courtroom.  “The aim is to maintain calm and security in the trial.  Based on Article 4 of Perma Number 5 of 2020, journalists are only allowed to take photos, they are not allowed to take videos, ”explained Erwantoni while asking journalists to open and read Regulation Number 5 of 2020.

When pressed to give an opinion on whether Perma was higher in rank than the law, the judge avoided giving an answer and instead seemed to throw the ball by saying that Perma was made by the Supreme Court.  “Please ask the Supreme Court,” he said.

The reporters then interrupted, “That means you want to say that the Supreme Court violates Article 18 paragraph 1 of Law Number 40 of 1999 concerning the Press?  (3) ”The judge looked stuttering and emotional, and said that he didn’t mean that.  “We are not here to argue, I am only explaining that the Perma regulates the trial protocol, and the stipulation is that no video is taken, which allows taking photos before the trial,” he said while looking to hold back his anger.

After this clarification, when asked for his response to the banning of video shooting at trial by Judge Erwantoni, the General Chairman of the Indonesian Citizens Association (PPWI) Wilson Lalengke said that he was very concerned about the judge’s behavior, which could set a bad precedent for Indonesian democracy at this time and  in the future.  According to him, democracy demands openness, transparency and honesty in all aspects.  One of the main pillars of democracy is journalists, who are given the task and responsibility to collect and disseminate information.

“If this is prohibited, how can journalists be able to collect detailed, complete and comprehensive information?  In fact, one of the proofs of a fact is the result of a recording, both a voice recording, a photo or a video, “explained Wilson Lalengke who is an Alumni of the 2012 PPRA-48 Lemhannas RI, Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

However, after reading and examining the contents of Perma Number 5 of 2020, said Wilson, it turned out that Judge Erwantoni was not careful and was impressed with the origin of the sound.  “Judges really need to understand correctly every word, phrase, and sentence used in a regulation, especially Regulation Number 5 of 2020,” said this graduate of Global Ethics from Birmingham University, UK.

Furthermore, the man who has been actively defending the freedom of the press in Indonesia explained that the Perma does not prohibit journalists from covering, including taking videos or moving pictures, during the trial.  Based on Article 4 paragraph (6) of Perma Number 5 of 2020, it is clear that “Taking photos, audio recordings and / or audio visual recordings must have the permission of the Judge / Chairperson of the Panel of Judges concerned before the start of the trial” (4).

“In this paragraph, it is very clear that audio recordings and / or audio-visual recordings can be made with the permission of the judge or the head of the panel of judges.  Maybe Hakim Erwantoni doesn’t understand the meaning of the phrase “audio-visual” which is another word or another expression for video, “said Wilson, who also completed his postgraduate program in Applied Ethics at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, and Linkoping University, Sweden.

The judge presiding over the trial must also have clear and strong reasons not to allow journalists to take photos, audio recordings and / or audio-visual recordings (video – ed).  In the next paragraph (paragraph 7) of Article 4 of the Perma it is stated that taking photos, audio recordings and / or audio visual recordings as referred to in paragraph (6) cannot be carried out in closed trials for the public.  This means that the judge will not give permission to journalists to take photos, audio recordings and / or audio-visual recordings if the trial is declared closed (5).

It should be noted that Article 2 of Perma Number 5 of 2020 states that “All court hearings are open to the public, unless the law stipulates otherwise” (6).  Based on this provision, almost all trials must be declared open and can be covered using photo equipment, voice recorders and video cameras.  As usual, only cases related to immoral and juvenile trials are usually declared closed to the public.

Therefore, said Wilson, he advised Judge Erwanto to return to study Indonesian properly.  “Improve your ability to understand the meaning and meaning of words, phrases and sentences again.  This is very important, because the fate of the citizens who deal with the law is in the hands of the judge as God’s representative.  Do not let the low ability to understand words, phrases, idioms, sentences, etc. used in statutory regulations, the decision made by the judge on the fate of the people in trial is misguided, “said the President of the Indonesian Sahara Moroccan Brotherhood (Persisma).  (APL / Red)


(1) Chaotic Case Session of Directors and Commissioners of PT.  Kahayan Karyacon, Legal Counsel for the Board of Directors Submits Exception; Commissioners-pt-kahayan-karyacon-kuasa-hukum-direksi-aju-eksepsi/

(2) Profile of Serang District Court Judges;

(3) Article 18 paragraph (1) of Law no.  40 of 1999 reads in full: Every person who unlawfully deliberately commits an act which results in obstructing or obstructing the implementation of the provisions of Article 4 paragraph (2) and paragraph (3) shall be sentenced to imprisonment of 2 (two) years or a maximum fine.  Rp.  500,000,000.00 (Five hundred million rupiah).  Article 18 paragraph (1) relates to: Article 4 paragraph (2) which reads: The national press is not subject to censorship, banning or broadcasting prohibition;  and Article 4 paragraph (3) which states: To guarantee press freedom, the national press has the right to seek, obtain, and disseminate ideas and information.  Article 4 paragraph (2) must refer to: Article 1 paragraph (8) regarding the meaning of the word / phrase ‘censorship’ which explains that: Censorship is the forcible removal of part or all of the material of information to be published or broadcast, or an act of warning or warning that  threatening from any party, and / or the obligation to report, as well as obtaining permission from the authorities, in carrying out journalistic activities;  and Article 1 paragraph (9) concerning the meaning of the word / phrase ‘banning or prohibiting broadcasting’ which explains that: Banned or prohibited broadcasting is the termination of publication and distribution or broadcasting by force or against the law.

(4) Article 4 paragraph (6) of Perma Number 5 of 2020;

(5) Article 4 paragraph (7) of Perma Number 5 of 2020;

(6) Article 2 of Perma Number 5 of 2020;

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