Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD)


For a country that has been declared a democratic nation since it gained independence, Indonesia still faces the real challenge of maintaining democratic values. Currently, Indonesian legal regulations do not provide a clear standard for when speech is protected and when it can be considered actionable defamation. The obscure scope of the law means that it can affect some kinds of speech, such as opinion or criticism, and render that speech punishable as a crime.

This study analyzes Indonesia’s criminal defamation laws by examining what is protected and unprotected speech. The study examines various laws, including Indonesian statutes and judicial decisions. The analysis begins by examining the history of Indonesia’s legislation related to defamation and questions whether regulating defamation, both offline and online, under criminal law is necessary for Indonesia. A description of traditional offline defamation law sets the foundation for the analysis, while the contours of Indonesia’s online defamation laws are drawn from this traditional analysis.

In this dissertation, the discussion of free speech will be linked to how Indonesia, since gaining independence, has always declared itself to be a democratic country. By examining statutes and cases involving offline and online defamation that resulted in criminal prosecution, the dissertation makes broader observations about democratic values in Indonesia. The dissertation makes a distinction between the laws governing offline and online criminal defamation because the legislation governing online defamation is sharply different, with Indonesia having particularly strong cyber laws regulating speech.

The study also examines several countries’ approaches to regulating criminal defamation and free speech. The countries chosen are ones with both better and worse free speech indexes than Indonesia. Through a comparative examination, this study reveals the advantages and disadvantages of regulating defamation through criminal law, both offline and online. These comparisons lead to recommendations for how Indonesia might adapt and revise its defamation laws.

This dissertation proceeds in three parts. First, it explores the definition of freedom of speech and defamation under Indonesian law. The first part explains how the current Indonesian legal system does not provide explicit standards for determining when defamation is actionable and when it should receive protection as free speech. Second, it then describes how other countries approach issues of freedom of speech and defamation, with attention given to how the internet poses unique challenges regarding speech regulation and whether other countries regulate offline and online defamation under separate legal provisions. Finally, it synthesizes the insights from the previous research questions to provide concrete recommendations for Indonesian law reform. A comparative perspective provides insight into how the Indonesian legal system could balance free speech interests while ensuring accountability and liability for online speech that causes harm.

Available for download on Friday, August 28, 2026