AJI slams sharp rise in violence against Indonesian journalists – 84 cases

Violence against Indonesian journalists
Violence against Indonesian journalists includes "intimidation, seizure of equipment, deleting photographs, criminalisation, and murder." Image: Kompas/iStockphoto)

By Irfan Kamil in Jakarta

Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) chairperson Abdul Manan says there has been a sharp rise of cases of violence against journalists in Indonesia – a record 84 during 2020

Manan said that what were referred to as violence against journalists were actions which can be categorised as attempts to obstruct journalists from doing their job.

This, said Manan, was based on the standards on handling cases of violence against journalists as set out by the Indonesian Press Council.

“It covers various kinds of acts ranging from intimidation, seizure of equipment, deleting photographs, criminalisation, to murder,” Manan told a press conference on Monday.

“These are the categories which can be said to be violence against journalists,” said Manan.

Manan said that based on these categories, AJI had recorded at least 84 cases of violence against journalists throughout Indonesia in 2020, compared with 53 cases in 2019.

The most cases of violence which could be categorised as severe before this occurred in 2016 with 81 cases.

‘Largest number if cases’
“What is more crucial is that this is the largest number of cases of violence [against journalists] monitored by AJI since it began gathering data,” said Manan.

“I think that this is not good news for journalists and the Indonesian press because violence should tend to decline, not the reverse,” he said.

Manan said that considering the spread of cases, the largest number occurred in Jakarta with 17, followed by the East Java cities of Malang with 15 cases and Surabaya with 7 cases.

In terms of the type of cases, Manan said that the majority were intimidation against journalists.

Nevertheless, based on AJI’s records, the next most common type of violation after intimidation was physical violence, damaging equipment and the deletion of photographs and videos.

“If we summarise the incidents that made a big contribution to the quite significant increase in cases of violence against journalists, if we look at the data, then the largest contributor to cases of violence was indeed cases related to the Omnibus Law,” said Manan.

Massive demonstrations
Manan said the massive demonstrations against the recently enacted Omnibus Law on Job Creation by civil society, workers and students in early October, was the largest contributor to cases of violence against journalists.

He said that on October 5 the demonstrations were quite massive and occurred in several parts of the country, which of course journalists covered.

“And it was over this period of demonstrations that [there were many] cases of violence against journalist ranging from intimidation so they wouldn’t report, assault and also damage [to equipment] and seizure of video equipment as well as photographs resulting from reportage,” he said.

Translated by James Balowski for Indoleft News. The original title of the article was “Meningkat, AJI Sebut Terjadi 84 Kasus Kekerasan Terhadap Wartawan Sepanjang 2020”.

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