For 4th year in a row, most violence against journalists committed by police: AJI

Source – December 29, 2021
Police assault journalist during demonstration against fuel price hikes in Makassar – Undated (FB)

Vitorio Mantalean, Jakarta – The Indonesian Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) released its 2021 End of Year Report in virtual format on Wednesday December 29.

In its explanation, the AJI noted that in the matter of violence against journalists, the police are again the majority of perpetrators this year with 12 reported cases.

"This is consecutive, yes, over the last four years, the majority of perpetrators of violence against journalists are the police. And prior to this we declared the police as the enemies of press freedom for three years in a row", said AJI Advocacy Division Chairperson Erick Tanjung.

After the police, the largest number of cases of violence against journalists was committed by unknown individuals (10 cases), both from civil groups as well as people suspected to be acting on orders and intelligence personnel.

Following this in order were government officials (eight cases), local residents (four), professional employees (four), along with bureaucrats, prosecutors, social or mass organisations, companies and the military which committed one case each.

One of the cases which attracted considerable attention was the case involving Tempo journalist Nurhadi in March.

Tanjung said that there were actually 12 perpetrators in the assault and mistreatment of Nurhadi but only two were prosecuted under the law. Both are active police offices.

Currently the case is being heard by the Surabaya District Court in East Java with a verdict expected to be handed down next week barring obstacles.

"This was a case of violence against journalists where the perpetrators were active police officers, which is the first time in Indonesia's history that such as case has reached the courts", said Tanjung.

The AJI also highlighted the police this year for arbitrarily labeling journalistic works which were verified and credible as hoaxes, such as was experienced by Kompas, Republica and the Multatuli Project.

"All of these reported articles were credible and confirmed, however the police through their official [social media] accounts arbitrarily labeled them as hoaxes. These actions violate press freedom", explained Tanjung.

Tanjung is urging President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Indonesian police chief General Listryo Sigit to conduct and internal reform of the Bhayangkara Corps – as the police are known – in order to stop and at the same time prevent the "legal impunity" enjoyed by police that commit violence against journalists.

So far, out of the numerous cases of police violence against journalists which have been then reported to police, only in the Nurhadi case has anyone ended up in court.

"It's hoped that with the case of abuse against journalist Nurhadi in Surabaya where the sentence will be handed down next week, it will become a jurisprudence and create a deterrent effect for law enforcement officials, especially the police, who have up until now been untouched by the law (for acts of violence against journalists)", said Tanjung in conclusion.


In a separate article on the same day Kompas reported the Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE) Law continues to be a bugbear for journalists. Quoting from AJI's End of Year Report, the paper said that there were at least three cases of journalists being criminalised and subsequently sentenced to prison terms under the law this year.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "AJI: 4 Tahun Berturut, Kekerasan terhadap Jurnalis Terbanyak Dilakukan oleh Polisi".]