Indonesian journalist, Muhammad Yusuf died on June 10, 2018 in police custody in the South Kalimantan Class II B Kotabaru detention centre. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI) have expressed condolences for Yusuf’s family and colleagues and demanded an investigation.
Yusuf, who worked for the online news portal, kemajuanrakyat.co.id, was detained in April after police arrested him on defamation charges for allegedly violating the Law on Information and Electronic Transactions (UU ITE). The charges related to a piece he wrote about palm oil company Multi Sarana Agro Mandiri (MSAM) owned by Syamsudin Andi Arsyad on Laut Island, Kotabaru. The case is currently ongoing at the Kotabaru District Court.
According to reports, on June 10, Yusuf complained to guards of difficult breathing, chest pains and that he had vomited. He was taken to the Kotabaru Regional Public Hospital, but passed away within 30 minutes of his arrival.
AJI said: "We express condolences for Muhammad Yusuf's family and colleagues and demand an investigation with the Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) into his death. We also raise questions as to why Yusuf was been charged until criminal legislation, which should not be used to resolve media disputes. The Press Law should always be used to resolve media disputes. Criminal proceedings can have negative implications for journalists, and their ability to report freely and without fear of retribution."
IFJ general secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: "We join AJI in expressing our condolences to Muhammad Yusuf's family and colleagues. We reiterate the demands of AJI for a thorough investigation with Indonesia's Human Rights Commission into Yusuf' death in custody. Why Yusuf was in custody as his case was investigated is another question that must be answered, as well as if adequate medical care was given to him."
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