Free Daniel from All Unjust Accustaions!

[Joint Statement]

Free Daniel from All Unjust Accusations!

We, the undersigned human rights organizations, collectives, defenders, and advocates collectively urge the Jepara District Court, Central Java, Indonesia, to acquit environmental rights defender Daniel Frits Maurits Tangkilisan in Karimunjawa, Indonesia from all indictments.

Daniel is part of the Karimunjawa Struggle Movement, which opposes the illegal intensive shrimp farming practices. The presence of illegal intensive shrimp farms in Karimunjawa –a protected national park and prominent marine tourism destination in Indonesia– has disrupted the environment and caused tension between supporters and opponents of these farms. The local economy is also disrupted, particularly affecting those working as marine resource cultivators, in tourism services, and among fishermen.

A supporter of illegal intensive shrimp farmers filed a lawsuit against Daniel, after he commented on his own personal Facebook account, using the term “shrimp brain community” (or birdbrain) as an idiom to criticize the supporters of illegal intensive shrimp farming.

Thenceforth, Daniel has been accused of hate speech under Article 28 paragraph (2) in conjunction with Article 45a paragraph (2) of the Electronic and Information Transaction Law (ITE Law). Since February 1, 2024, Daniel has undergone 11 hearings. During the 11th hearing on March 19, 2024, the chief prosecutor proposed a ten-month prison sentence, along with a fine of 5,000,000 rupiah (USD316).

We vehemently denounce the charges and legal efforts against Daniel. Such prosecution epitomizes the plight of environmental advocates in Indonesia, who are compelled to face legal challenges merely for exercising their freedom of expression in defense of the environment while simultaneously preserving their main source of livelihood. The relentless criminalization of Daniel starkly defies several of Indonesia’s international obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Instead of safeguarding people’s freedom of expression, the government resorted to neglecting hate speech charges against Daniel. Indonesia has also blatantly disregarded its vow—made upon securing reelection as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council from 2024 to 2026—to uphold the basic civil and political rights of all individuals.

As per Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence shall be prohibited by law. Nonetheless, the requirements that an act or expression must meet to qualify as incitement of hatred are stringent.

According to the Rabat Plan of Action, a fair judicial system must consider several factors, including the context, speaker, intent, content and form, the extent of the speech act, and the likelihood of harm. In the case of Daniel, we are confident that these elements are not satisfied, considering the background against which the statement was made, which is to safeguard the right to a healthy environment, as well as the absence of imminent harm.

The ongoing criminalization of human rights and environmental defenders persists in Indonesia, despite the existence of an anti-SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) provision within the Environmental Protection and Management Act. This provision explicitly safeguards environmental advocates from criminal or civil litigation. However, its application remains infrequent, including in the case of Daniel.

As the April 4th verdict hearing approaches, it’s vital for all stakeholders, including the international community and the public, to demand Daniel’s exoneration and to urge the Jepara District Court to acquit him. We shall not remain silent in the face of this threat. We stand in solidarity with Daniel. The pivotal role of Daniel and other environmental defenders is crucial in preserving Karimunjawa’s natural heritage from environmentally negligent business expansion.

Based on our concern for these matters, we urge the Jepara District Court to:

  1. Acquit the case of hate speech targeting environmental defender of Karimunjawa, Daniel Frits Maurits Tangkilisan;
  2. Instruct the plaintiff to restore the reputation of Daniel Frits Maurits Tangkilisan, who has been labeled as a blasphemer;
  3. Improve transparency and provide reasonable timelines in adjudicating cases related to public interest;
  4. Utilize anti-SLAPP mechanisms and environmentally conscious courts in handling environmental-related cases.

We also call on the Indonesian government to:

  1. Demonstrate its commitment to freedom of expression by unequivocally stating that environmental defenders cannot be prosecuted for their activism;
  2. Revoke problematic articles in the ITE Law and other repressive regulations immediately. The Implementation Guidelines of the ITE Law have failed in effective enforcement by the police and public prosecutors;
  3. Prioritize and guarantee environmental protection and implement strong policies to ensure sustainability for future generations.

Furthermore, we summon the international community to actively monitor the criminalization of freedom of expression in Indonesia. In Indonesia, human rights defenders and environmental activists have become critical groups vulnerable to being targeted for criminalization using legal instruments that are open to multiple interpretations such as the ITE Law and the Criminal Code. As a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the term 2024-2026, Indonesia must be held accountable for failing to ensure the respect, protection, and fulfillment of human rights for its citizens in line with international human rights standards.


  1. ALTSEAN-Burma
  2. Amnesty International Indonesia
  3. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  4. ATM – Alyansa Tigil Mina (Alliance to Stop Mining-Philippines).
  5. Community Resource Centre (CRC)
  7. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
  8. FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  9. Franciscans International, Switzerland
  10. Front Line Defenders
  11. Greenpeace Southeast Asia
  12. JPICC-CMSP Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission-Conference of Major Superiors in the Philippines
  13. KRuHA – People’s Coalition for the Right to Water
  14. Legal Initiatives for Vietnam
  15. Manushya Foundation
  16. Mines,Minerals, & People , India
  17. MiningWatch Canada
  18. Open Net Korea
  19. Protection International
  20. Public Virtue Research Institute
  21. PWESCR
  22. Resister Indonesia
  23. Sentra HAM FHUI
  24. Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet)
  25. SPELL-Solidarity for People’s Education and Lifelong Learning
  26. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia
  27. The Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN) Indonesia
  28. The Commission for The Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KontraS)
  29. The William Gomes Podcast
  30. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders