JAKARTA — For Indonesia, the past three years has been marked with a series of political events. Simultaneous local elections were held consecutively in a large number of regions. And in 2019, the series of political events will culminate in the legislative and presidential elections, which will also be held concurrently.
A number of important events that coincide with the political races have left their mark on the climate of press freedom in Indonesia, on top of a series of development that have proved to be unfavourable to the general condition of journalist and media professionalism in the country.
The Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF/Reporters Without Border) 2018 report, placed Indonesia in the 124th position out of 180 countries. While the country’s rank has not changed from last year’s placement, it is still higher than the Philippines (13rd), Myanmar (137th), Cambodia (142nd), Malaysia (145th), Singapore (151st), Brunei (153rd), Laos (170th), and Vietnam (175th). However, Indonesia still placed lower than Timor Leste, which stood at 93rd position.
RSF rankings measure three parameters in gauging a country’s freedom of the press, taking in legal, political, and economic climate. The legal parameter looks into a country’s regulations on freedom of the press. The political aspect highlights policies that might bear consequences on freedom of the press, impacts that might include violence against journalists and media. The economic parameter probes into the country’s economic environment and its potential impact on freedom of the press.
According to statistics by AJI Indonesia Advocacy Division, at least 64 incidents of violence against journalists had occurred in Indonesia in the past year alone. Incidents that are categorized as violence against journalists include expulsion, physical assault, and criminalization of a journalist on the basis of their work. The number is higher than last year’s count of 60 cases, and is considered above average. The largest number of cases of violence against journalists happened in 2016 (81 cases), with the lowest incidents occurring in 2009 (39 cases).
Most incidents of violence and criminalization of journalists are directly linked to political contests on national and local levels. The increasing hostility is further aggravated by poor law enforcement by the police.
In recognition of this fact and taking into account the increasing future potentials for violence, it was deemed necessary to build a synergistic collaboration based on the initiative of press communities and relevant stakeholders to resolve and prevent violence against journalists.
AJI, along with a number of institutions, supported by International Media Support (IMS), have initiated a collaboration to mitigate cases of violence against the press and the media. On Friday, April 5, 2019, the Committee for Journalists Safety was declared in the Press Council building in Jakarta, as a form of collaboration in violence mitigation.
The Committee for Journalists Safety was initiated by and consisted of members from: Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI); Press Legal Aid Agency (LBH Pers); Safenet; Indonesian Television Journalist Association (IJTI); Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI); Indonesian Cyber Media Association (AMSI); Federation of Independent Media Worker Unions (FSPMI); Amnesty International; United Media Workers and Creative Industry for Democracy (SINDIKASI).
Specifically, the committee seeks to promote advocacy of cases of violence against journalists by setting up a funding scheme called journalists safety fund. The committee initiators and founders have also designed standard operating procedures (SOP) which will serve as a guideline in resolving and preventing cases of violence against journalists and media workers.
Contact Persons: Committee for Journalists Safety (Komite Keselamatan Jurnalis)
Sasmito Madrim (AJI Indonesia) 085779708669
Gading Yonggar Ditya (LBH Pers) 081392946116
Isnur (YLBHI) 081510014395
Wahyu Triogo (IJTI) 08811804598
Wahyu Dhyatmika (AMSI) 0818317182
Nenden Sekar Arum (Safenet) 087893889366
Haeril Halim (Amnesty International) 08118820055
Ikhsan Raharjo ( SINDIKASI) 082111351708
Raimundus Rikang (FSPMI) 085851049888