Arnold Belau, Jayapura – Coinciding with the commemoration of International Human Rights Day on December 10, the Jayapura city Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) have launched the Papua Legal Aid Association for the Press (Perkumpulan Bantuan Hukum Pers Tanah Papua, PBHPTP).
In opening the launch, AJI Jayapura Chairperson Lucky Ireeuw said that Law Number 40/1999 on the Press was established based on the consideration that press freedom represents one of the concrete forms of the people's sovereignty and is an important element in realising a democratic social and national life, so the freedom to express ideas and views as contained in Article 28 of the 1945 Constitution must be guaranteed.
One of the biggest jobs in Indonesia since 1969 has been related to the state of press freedom in Papua. According to AJI Indonesia's data, there were as many as 114 cases of violence against journalists in Papua over the last 20 years, or between 2000 and 2021.
"It is these cases of violence against the press which have become a big problem for the world of journalism in Indonesia, including Papua, said Ireeuw.
The editor of the daily Cenderawasih Post continued saying the national Press Freedom Index (IKP) survey conducted by the Press Council over the last four years (2017-2020) found that Papua consistently scored last with a press freedom category of rather or quite free.
"One of the reasons is because of the frequent cases of violence against journalists in Papua", he said.
The violence referred to is not just in the form of physical violence, but also psychological violence in the form of threats, intimidation, prohibitions, various kinds of digital attacks both against journalists as well as media outlets, and terror which threatens journalistic work and press freedom in Papua and West Papua provinces.
Of the many cases of violence against journalists in Papua, many are not dealt with properly or resolutions in the case are unclear.
"This situation indicates that there are no guarantees, legal certainty or sense of justice for journalists who become victims of violence", he said.
In such as situation, continued Ireeuw, an organisation or institution is needed which of course can focus on advocacy for Papuan journalists.
"Coinciding with International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2021, the AJI has initiated and officially established the Papua Legal Aid Association for the Press (PBHPTP), as an institution which has a legal standing and which can play a role in defending the rights of journalists who suffer violence in the land of Papua", he said.
The PBHPTP will not just provide benefits for all print and electronic journalists in Papua, but will also indirectly benefit the central and regional governments, as well as elements of the legislative, judiciary, the TNI (Indonesian military), Polri (Indonesian police), civil society organisations, traditional communities and society in general in the land of Papua.
"The final aim of having this institution is the realisation of justice for journalists and press freedom in the land of Papua", he said.
The launch of the PBHTP, which was held at a hotel in Jayapura city on Friday, was attended by the commander of the Cenderawasih XVII military command, the Papua regional police chief, the Papua provincial government legal bureau and representatives from other government institutions such as the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) as well as journalists and journalist organisations.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Hari HAM Sedunia, AJI Jayapura Launching PBH Pers – Suara Papua".]