Indonesia’s Chief Security Minister Wiranto says it is important to maintain a “balance” between rights and duties to avoid violence against journalists on duty.
Wiranto spoke during a forum titled “Violence Against Journalists on Duty” at Persada Executive Club in Jakarta last week, which also saw in attendance Air Force (TNI AU) spokesman Air Commodore Jemi Trisonjaya, head of the Indonesian Press Council Yosep Adi Prasetyo, head of Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI) Margiono, as well as representatives of government institutions and media.
“There needs to be a balance between rights and duties. If they are consistently implemented, violence against journalists will not occur,” Wiranto claimed.
According to the 1999 Press Law, authorities are not allowed to prohibit a journalist from news coverage.
Reporters carrying out their duties are most often subject to violence by security officials who on the spot try to prevent the reporting.
Wiranto said journalists had the right to investigate and report. However, their duty was to support the nation.
He added that there was no intention from the authorities to exercise violence, but more discussions should take place regarding the issue.
Violence statistics worse
Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) data shows that violence against journalists in 2016 was worse than in the previous year, making Indonesia rank 130th out of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index report — below Timor-Leste, Taiwan and India.
“Violence is not what we desire. There were 78 incidents in 2016 and 42 incidents in 2015. Most of the incidents occurred spontaneously, when the authorities felt threatened,” Wiranto said.
Violence, however, does not only come from the hands of the police.
Last Wednesday morning, a cameraman from a local TV station was punched while reporting a flood in Kemang, South Jakarta.
The perpetrator, known by initials K.G.U., and his two friends were opening the hood of their Morris Mini Cooper, which broke while trying to cross the water.
Unhappy with the camera pointing at them, the 25-year-old K.G.U. approached the reporter and attacked him. He was caught by police a few hours later.
West Papua press freedom and human rights violations have also been on the rise in recent months.