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Jakarta Post

HRW calls for tougher measures to combat violence against journalists

  • Marguerite Afra Sapiie
    Marguerite Afra Sapiie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, April 26, 2017   /   10:49 pm
HRW calls for tougher measures to combat violence against journalists President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo talks to journalists after his visit to Islamic boarding school Al Hikamussalafiyah in Purwakarta, West Java, on April 25. (Courtesy of/the Presidential Office)

Rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Indonesian government to adopt bolder steps to ensure the dismissal and prosecution of security officials implicated in violence against journalists.

HRW deputy Asia director Phelim Kine specifically called UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova to publicly address the increase in assaults against journalists during the commemoration of the 2017 World Press Freedom Day next week.

UNESCO has chosen Jakarta to host its annual World Press Freedom Day commemoration on May 3 and thus “it should use the occasion to urge President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to take more decisive action in response to the issue,” Kine said.

“World Press Freedom Day should be a time to celebrate the role journalists play in society, but in Indonesia the focus too often is on reporters’ fears,” Kine said.

“The Indonesian government should reverse the dangerous deterioration of freedom of the press in the country and prosecute security force personnel who physically assault journalists.”

The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) revealed the number of violence against journalists cases increased to 78 incidents in 2016, including attacks by security forces, from 42 in 2015 and 40 in 2014. Only a few of attackers in those 78 incidents were properly brought to justice.

Investigations by the HRW found that the abuse included destruction of journalists' equipment, harassment, intimidation, threats and assault. Theses acts typically occurred in provincial capitals and smaller cities, but less commonly in Jakarta, where journalists are more aware of their rights. (ebf)