IPMI calls for government action to protect freedom of expression in Indonesia

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI-Indonesia), the South East Asia Journalist Unions (SEAJU) and the International Partnership Mission to Indonesia (IPMI) in releasing its observations and recommendations following a week-long mission to Indonesia in November 2015. The IFJ joins the IPMI in calling on the Indonesian government to adopt the recommendations to guarantee and protest freedom of expression in the country.The International Partnership Mission to Indonesia, which included members from international human rights and freedom of expression organisations, including the IFJ and South East Asian Journalist Unions (SEAJU), visited Indonesia from November 8 to 14, 2015. The IPMI travelled to Indonesia to meet with journalists, government and civil society representatives to review the media environment one year on since its first visit in December 2014. During this visit, the Mission held meetings in Jakarta and Makassar, Sulawesi, as well as conducted a fact-finding visit to Jayapura, Papua, in eastern Indonesia.During the visit, the Mission met with the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, who re-committed, on behalf of the Widodo administration, to free press access to Papua and promised to review outstanding cases of killings of local journalists raised by the mission. The mission met with Papuan journalists and media activists who described an atmosphere of surveillance and intimidation, as well as claims of security agents posing as journalists. The mission also heard about challenges to freedom of expression more broadly across the country. The digital space is an emerging front line for the media; meanwhile the Electronic Information and Transactions Law and the broader Criminal Code are being abused to silence critical voices.
Following the first visit to Indonesia in December 2014, the IPMI released key recommendationsto address the areas of concern. Today, the IPMI has released updated recommendations aimed at protecting freedom of expression in Indonesia. Among the key recommendations were:

·         The president of Indonesia should issue an inpres (a formal presidential instruction) to follow up on his verbal announcement on the lifting of restrictions.

·         There should be an immediate end to any detentions and arrests of foreign journalists for their work in reporting from Papua or other sensitive regions.

·         The Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security, Luhut Pandjaitan, review the unsolved journalist killings raised by the mission and establish a task force to investigate progress by the police units concerned and issue reports on the progression of these cases.

·         The Government of Indonesia should decriminalise defamation.

·         The Government of Indonesia work with civil society and journalists to establish a comprehensive national mechanism to promote journalist safety and end impunity.

The IFJ said: “We welcome the recommendations and observations issued by the IPMI today and call on the Indonesian government to adopt these recommendations to ensure the protection of freedom of expression in Indonesia. These recommendations are based on findings during the mission, calling for action action to heed the concerns of media freedom across the country. Indonesia has an opportunity to be a leader of press freedom and journalist safety in the region, but the government must take action to earn this position.”

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

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