Jakarta – The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) says that 90 journalists were victims of violence over the last year with most of the alleged perpetrators being police.
"There were 90 cases of violence against journalists between May 2020 and May 2021. This is big rise compared with the previous period, with [only] 57 cases", said AJI trade union advocacy division head Erik Tanjung during the launch of an AJI report titled "The Press Freedom Situation in Indonesia in 2021" on Monday May 3.
Based on a survey conducted by AJI, the majority of perpetrators of violence against journalists were police at 70 percent. The remaining cases meanwhile were committed by advocates, prosecutors, government officials, Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officers and regional government officials and unidentified individuals.
Tanjung said that one of the latest cases of violence against journalists was the assault on Tempo journalist Nurhadi.
As has been reported, Nurhadi was assaulted while reporting on the whereabouts of the former Investigation Director at the Tax Directorate General of the Finance Ministry, Angin Prayitno Aji, in relation to a tax bribery scandal being handled by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
According to Tanjung, Nurhadi was seeking confirmation about the case but before he could do this he was assaulted. "Nurhadi was assaulted, beaten and intimidated when reporting to confirm [the whereabouts] of a former Finance Ministry official", he said.
In addition to this was the conviction of Banjarhits.id/Kumparan journalist Diananta Sumedi in South Kalimantan who ended up in court over a report titled "Land theft in Jhonlin, Dayak [community] submits report with South Kalimantan regional police".
Yet, said Tanjung, the dispute over the report had already been resolved by the Press Council based on Law Number 40/199 on the Press. Under the law he explained, the Press Council has the authority to examining press disputes, including up until they go to trial.
In relation to the long list of violence against journalist over the last year, Tanjung said that press freedom in Indonesia is worsening. "Press freedom has worsened during the [Covid-19] pandemic", he said.
Speaking separately, AJI Makassar Chairperson Nurdin Amir highlighted 25 cases of sexual violence against journalists, which based on a survey by AJI Jakarta in 2020 have still not be resolved.
"In Makassar [South Sulawesi], AJI received a report on sexual violence that befell a woman journalist when they were on duty at the Makassar city administrative services office. This created feelings of trauma for the victim. But the case has never been followed up by the related parties", he said.
Amir also highlighted a case of violence against a journalist named Darwin and his colleagues in 2019. Police investigators declared four rogue police officers as suspects in the case on February 26, 2020.
"[But] the case is still stuck with South Sulawesi regional police investigators, there has been no further legal process. This neglect has created feelings of injustice for the victims. We are asking that the case be followed up and must be tried in court", he cried.
Earlier, Indonesian police chief General Listyo Sigit, in relation to a telegram on police officers appearing arrogant in the media, conceded that the actions of one rouge police officer can damage the image of the Bhayangkara Corps – as the police are known – as a whole.
"Because of this I'm asking that direction be given to officers to be more careful when working in the field, don't exhibit behaviour which goes too far which is instead seen as arrogant, we still often see officers appearing arrogant in reports broadcast in the media", he said on Tuesday April 6.
Sigit also said that the police still need the press. "Once again, we always need correction from our media friends and external [parties] for improvements to the police as an institution so that it can be better", he asserted. (yla/mir/ain)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "AJI: 90 Jurnalis Korban Kekerasan, Polisi Andil 70 Persen".]