IFJ calls on Indonesian government for immediate release of French journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today again called for the immediate release of two French journalists who have been detained since August 6 in West Papua, Indonesia. Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourratwere arrested in Wawena, West Papua for entering Indonesia on tourist visa while working. The IFJ, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the French Union of Journalists (SNJ, SNJ-CGT and CFDT-Journalists) and Indonesia’s Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) have continued pressure on the government to release the pair. Since their arrest, Dandois and Bourrat have been held in Jayapura’s immigration office and were scheduled to be transferred to the Papuan Police detention centre late last week. However, the Jakarta Post reported that due to paperwork issues and delay in organizing cells, the transfer was put on hold. The IFJ understands the pair may be moved to jail accommodations today. The Jayapura Immigration office chief, Gardu Tempubulon said that the transfer will take place as soon as two separate rooms are prepared. Requests had been made by a lawyer representing the French Embassy in Jakarta for the pair to put on city arrest; however this was rejected citing safety concerns. On August 11, Dandois and Bourrat were charged with violating Article 122 of the 2011 Immigration law, following which their audio recordings, video footage and belongings, including laptops and phones were taken. Since their arrest, few details have been released regarding the charges against them; however reports suggest they are also facing charges of subversion for being involved with armed criminal groups from the Free Papua Movement (OPM).  In an earlier statement , the French Union of Journalists (SNJ, SNJ-CGT and CFDT-Journalists) and Indonesia’s Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) deplored the arrest and subsequent charging of the two journalists, calling for their immediate release.The IFJ Asia-Pacific Acting Director, Jane Worthington said: “This is an outrageous violation of these journalists’ rights and we again call on the Indonesian Government to immediately release Dandois and Bourret. The fact that they are still in immigration detention is intolerable and we are extremely concerned by the news that they will be moved to police custody.” “This case highlights the urgent need for reform in Indonesia. Blocking tactics such as these continues to drive misinformation and further destablise the region. We hope that incoming President Joko Widodo follows through on his statement to open Papua to foreign media and call on current President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to order the immediate release of Dandois and Bourrat.” To join the online campaign calling for their release follow #FreeThomasandValentine      

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

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