Threats Against Press Not Abating, Is It Jokowi Administration’s Failure?
Amid challenging times when the role of the free press is key to a democratic society, the country’s press freedom once again has been put in the spotlight as it faces fresh challenges, ranging from threats and violence to criminalization.
The latest case took place recently in Banyumas, Central Java. The incident begun when police officers disrupted the work of journalists by allegedly damaging their equipment when they were recording the police’s attempt to disperse protesters in front of the regency administration office on Monday night.
A reporter from private news channel Metro TV, Darbe Tyas, suffered injuries after allegedly being beaten by about 10 officers who reportedly ignored Darbe’s attempt to show them his press card.
The Indonesian Television Journalist Association (IJTI) Papua chapter has joined the chorus in condeming the alleged assaults, saying the authorities should thoroughly investigate and punish officers who commit acts of violence in accordance with the law.
AJI insists that press freedom in the country has barely improved as it continues to face threats, such as violence against reporters by law enforcement officers which was caused by the latter’s lack of knowledge on the importance of the protection of journalists.
According to AJI data, case of violence against reporters in Indonesia increased to 78 incidents last year from 42 in 2015 and 40 in 2014. These included attacks by law enforcement personnel, but only a few perpetrators were brought to justice.
The Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Press) has raised concerns over articles un the currently under deliberation amendment to the Criminal Code (KUHP) that may incriminate journalists. Article 329 of the amendment bill stipulates that “ a maximum of five years” imprisonment can be given as punishment to anyone who publishers or allows the publication of anything that could affect impartiality of judges in a court hearing”.
LBH Press executive director Nawawi Bahrudin said the article contradicted article 4 of the 1999 Press Law, which stipulated that press freedom was guaranteed as a human right and that the national press should not be subjected to cencorship or broadcasting bans.
However, the existence of press freedom in the developing and developed countries is a significant to spur and to boost the conducive and stable situation which is needed to raise national economic and national security situation level. So, press freedom is a key for the democratic government to get another information which is needed in the processing of national policy circuumstances.
Politically, threats against press freedom just make un-equal and un-gained image for the government. The government political opponent’s must be explorated those facts, because threats against press freedom has been showing that the maturity of democratization and tolerance in the position of big question mark.
The impact of violation against press freedom in Indonesia are firstly, President Jokowi and his administration’s could be judged to be fail to protect press freedom, so that press communities in Indonesia will be made a long-stances to the government.
Secondly, press freedom is a one of indicator for foreign investors to invest their capital in Indonesia. Without press freedom, they could not have a clear and big data about the safety of their capital.
Because of that, if Jokowi administration’s will be attracting the new foreign investors to come in Indonesia, Jokowi must be instructed Information and Communication Ministry and all of communication bureau at another ministry and agency to investigate and to honour also to protect press freedom in Indonesia.
Thirdly, press freedom is a significant point to elaborate and to disseminate the values of democracy such as tolerance, plurality, moderate stance and protecting human rights. Threats against press freedom is a contrary with an universal values so that whoever and wherever made a move to make press freedom in the danger situation, they will be a position as a democratic society’s common enemy. Importantly, if President Jokowi will be given instruction to the National Police chief, the Indonesian Military commander and the State Intelligence Agency chief to guarantee and to protect press freedom in Indonesia.
Politically, threats against press freedom in Indonesia still occurs and it does not abate, its mean as un-gain situations for the recent government. However, it does not benefit for Jokowi administration’s making rivalry and confrontation with press communities, because as the fourth strenght of democracy, press freedom is a basic and significant task for every countries to create it. Hopefully.
*) Bayu Kusuma, Press freedom observers at Strategic Assessment, Jakarta.