Indonesia’s press freedom ranking slipped this year to 117th from 100th place last year, according to a survey by Paris-based civil society group Reporters Without Borders.
“In Southeast Asia, Indonesia cannot seem to pass under the symbolic bar separating the top 100 countries from the rest despite remarkable media growth,” the NGO said in a press statement issued Tuesday evening.
“Malaysia [141st], Singapore [136th] and Timor Leste [93rd] are down this year. In short, repression has not diminished in ASEAN countries, despite the recent adoption of a human rights charter,” it said.
The organization, which also functions as a consultant for the United Nations, referenced the killings of two journalists, and death threats several others received, mainly for their reports on the environment in Indonesia.
The 178 countries included in the survey were ranked solely based on events between Sept. 1, 2009, and Sept. 1, 2010. The report took into account press freedom violations only, according to the Reporters Without Borders’ official website, www.rsf.org.
In Indonesia’s case, the NGO recorded that a cameraman working for SUN TV was killed in August in Tual, the eastern province of Maluku, by a group of villagers when he was attempting to cover a clash between the villagers and residents of a neighboring village.
An investigative journalist whose body was found on July 30 in a river in the eastern province of Papua — where media coverage is highly restricted — was reported to have committed suicide, according to the NGO.
The journalist had been suffering from depression for months after soldiers threatened him over his report on illegal logging there.
The Borneo bureau chief of the leading national daily, Kompas, was found dead in his home in July, the NGO stated.
The bureau chief, who was outspoken in his criticism of deforestation and environmental destruction in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, is widely thought to have been killed, but the cause of death was never confirmed.
In July, Jakarta-based Tempo magazine’s headquarters were hit by petrol bombs thrown by unknown assailants.
The attack was allegedly linked to the magazine’s report that several Indonesian police generals had suspiciously large bank accounts.
Copies of that issue of the magazine were removed from shelves of stores by men wearing police uniforms.
No suspects have been named in the Tempo incident. The Jakarta Police chief at the time of the incident has since been approved by the House of Representatives to become the next National Police chief.
A reporter working at the local daily of Harian Aceh was physically abused and has received death threats against him and his family allegedly from soldiers for his reports on illegal logging, according to the report.
He is now in hiding, away from his family.
Indian and Italian reporters were also arrested in November last year after covering Greenpeace’s deforestation protest in Sumatra.