West Papua Foreign Media Ban Suggests “Concealment of Human Rights Abuses”

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has again voiced concern at the continued ban on foreign media in West Papua, after an Australian television crew was deported from the region for using tourist visas.

“While the IFJ realises it is important for journalists to acquire the appropriate documentation to enter a country, the Indonesian Government has made reporting in West Papua virtually impossibly by refusing visas for journalists,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

“This continued ban on foreign media in the region raises serious concerns of a concealment of human rights abuses,” he said.

According to local news reports, the Today Tonight television team had originally attempted to get permission to cover a story in West Papua but had been denied.

The IFJ, the global organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries, has been campaigning for the Indonesian government to open up West Papua to foreign journalists.

“While foreign journalists are unable to get official access to the region, the media’s ability to tell the West Papua story is severely impeded, and human rights abuses can occur unchecked and without scrutiny,” the IFJ President said.

According to data released by IFJ affiliate, the Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI), this is not the only area that the Indonesian government needs to work on when it comes to press freedom.

Coinciding with its 12th anniversary of defending journalist’s rights and press freedom, AJI released its data citing 64 cases of attacks against journalists in the country in the last year, including one murder, one abduction, one journalist was imprisoned and 34 assaulted, with government officials responsible for 14 acts of violence and police for eight.

Furthermore, Teguh Santosa, editor-in-chief of the Rakyat Merdeka Online, faces up to five years in jail for defamation for republishing the now-famous “Danish Cartoons” which depicted the Islamic prophet Mohammod.

The IFJ reiterates its calls for the Indonesian Government to respect the rights of a free and independent media by opening West Papua up to the international press, by ensuring journalists safety is protected and by removing defamation once and for all from the criminal code.

For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries