11 UPB Students Deserve the Title of Public Information Disclosure Warrior

November 12, 2013

On the 10th of November, every year, we commemorate Hero Day. The word “hero” is not necessarily identical with a struggle to defend the nation. In the dictionary, the word hero is defined as a person that is prominent due to bravery and sacrifice in the defense of righteousness. Drawing on this definition, the Centre for Regional Information and Studies (PATTIRO) rates the struggle of 11 students from the Putra Batam University (UPB), in challenging for their right to information regarding their university results that had allegedly been manufactured by university staff. It argues that they should be given the title of Information Disclosure Warriors, as they are warriors in the fight for public information disclosure.

After relatively long debates over the status of information requested by the students, the Information Commission of Riau Archipelago Province, through KI Decision No. 003/VII/KI-Kepri-PS/2013 Article 2.2, decided that the requested information was a form of public information. As such, the university was required to promptly provide the requested information, that is, a copy of the answer sheet for the semester 5 midterms for 8 courses and a copy of the question booklets.

The cases arose from the dissatisfaction of a number of UPB students over their 2011 mid-semester and end-of-semester 5 exam results, which they believed to have been fabricated by the university. The students were left disgruntled when their requests for information on their exam results were not addressed. In response, they reported their cases to the relevant agencies, such as the Coordinator for Private Higher Education (Kopertis), the police and in their best move, they also took their dispute to the Information Commission of Riau Archipelago Province. After several sessions, the Riau Archipelago KI decided that UPB must provide the information requested by the students. UPB, having not accepted the decision of the Riau Archipelago KI, appealed to the District Court. The District Court then held three meditation sessions, however was also unable to find agreement between the two parties.

At the time in which the information request was undertaken, the university had already that stated that, from 11 students that requested the information, two had already dropped out (DO) and five had been suspended for contravening UPB Rules, chapter IV, article 5, point 16: behaving and acting in a manner that undermines and lessens the good name of UPB. The reason for differences in suspension and DO outcomes among the students is not clear and there has been no additional explanation from the university. Attempts by the penalised students, both suspended and dropped-out, to refute the allegations were not responded to by the university. The process of reaching a decision at the university level occurred through a senate meeting that was unilateral and did not involve the authorities. This process was a violation of the students’ human rights.

The effort of criminalization of information access and violation of human rights by UPB against their students has compelled the Freedom of Information Network Indonesia (FOINI), of which PATTIRO is one member, to take a stance on this case. The Information Openness Network in Indonesia condemns all acts of retaliation against citizens that utilize their right to information as guaranteed in UUD 45 and Law No. 14, 2008 on Public Information Disclosure (UU KIP). Other than that, FOINI will also continue to monitor the course of this case to its conclusion and provide support to the students with the formulation of advocacy strategies for information disclosure in Riau Archipelago.

One method of advocacy that has been undertaken by the FOINI is the holding of a press conference to voice support for the information request effort through recommendations that the associated parties observe the decision released by the Riau Archipelago Information Commission. At the time of the press conference on 31 October 2013 in Batam, FOINI had already recommended and was in the process of writing to the Batam District Court, that they respect and observe the Riau Archipelago KI ruling no. 003/VII/KI-Kepri-PS/2013 article 2.2. The FOINI hopes that the Batam District Court exercises prudence, and that the university understands that the information requested by the 11 UPB students is public information that must be open, not covered up. .

PATTIRO, as a part of the FOINI, contends that the Riau Archipelago KI decision should be considered by all information commissions in Indonesia when presiding over similar information disputes. The undertaking of the 11 UPB students is a real example of the struggle for truth through public information disclosure. It is a struggle can encourage an increase in enthusiasm and expectation over the implementation of the KIP Act. The degree of enthusiasm and expectation over the implementation of the KIP Act will increase information transparency, including transparency in the planning and consumption of government spending, so that the potential for corruption and budgetary misappropriation can be suppressed. Therefore, those 11 UPB students are worthy of the title Warriors of Public Information Disclosure.

Sad Dian Utomo | Executive Director of PATTIRO

saddian@pattiro.org | 0812 800 3045

Contact Person: Adnan Rahmadi | Communication Officer

adnan@pattiro.org | 081 808 240105

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