Vitorio Mantalean, Jakarta – The Jakarta Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) and the Legal Aid Institute for the Press (LBH Pers) have slammed allegations of police intimidation against CNN Indonesia and 20Detik journalists when they were covering the recent shooting of Brigadier J in the vicinity of police Internal Affairs Division Chief (Kadiv Propam) Inspector General Ferdy Sambo's official residence.
AJI Jakarta Chairperson Afwan Purwanto believes that the police's actions have done irreparable damaged to freedom of the press and the work of journalists which represents part of the public interest.
"Seizing, forcibly deleting, and searching journalists' bags and their persons who were covering a story are actions which should be inappropriate. We believe these actions were excessive and arbitrary. This conflicts with Law Number 40/1999 on the Press", said Purwanto in a press release on Friday July 15.
Speaking in the same vein as Purwanto, LBH Pers Director Ade Wahyudin insisted that journalists working in the public interest should be protected and have a sense of security when covering a story.
Aside from violating the Press Law, the perpetrators could also be subject to the articles on seizure and threatening behaviour under the Criminal Code (KUHP) and illegal access under the Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE) Law.
"Acts of intimidation and obstructing journalist's activities completely go against the intentions [expressed by] the Kapolri [Indonesian police chief] who guaranteed that there would be transparency and objectivity in investigating the shoot out at the official residence of Kadiv Propam Inspector General Ferdy Sambo", said Wahyudin.
The Jakarta AJI and LBH Pers are urging the Indonesian police chief and the Metro Jaya regional police chief, along with their officers, to investigate the case.
The groups believe that those who intimidated the journalists could also be indicted under Article 368 of the KUHP on seizure and threatening behaviour and Article 30 Paragraph (1) of the ITE Law related to illegal access to devices and electronic systems belonging to other people.
"Under the principles of respecting press freedom, if there are parties who feel dissatisfied or feel harmed as a consequence of reporting, they should use there right of reply and correction, as stipulated under Article 1 Point 11 of Law Number 40/1999 on the Press", said Wahyudin.
The AJI Jakarta and LBH Pers are appealing to all parties to respect the work of journalists and respect press freedom in Indonesia.
It is hoped that media offices can guarantee and monitor the safety of journalists covering stories in the field, especially in cases that have the potential to result in physical or psychological threats.
Earlier it was reported that two journalists suffered intimidation at the hands of several men while covering a story in the vicinity of Sambo's residence.
One of the victims, who did not want to reveal their name, said they were intimidated by three men with crew cuts when they were interviewing a cleaning staff member at the complex of an informant.
"After interviewing Ibu [Mrs] (RT) [the neighbourhood association head] we went around looking for Mang [brother] Asep, a sweeper. [We] came across him on side of the road at an intersection", said the victim.
The three men then summoned the informant who was in the process of being interviewed. A short time later, the informant returned and the interview was continued.
"Then we continued the interview with Pak [Mr] Asep while recording all kinds of things on video. It was then that the three [men] came back. Immediately [they said], 'here, where's your cellphone, where's your cellphone", said the victim.
The three men who asked for the victim's cellphone then deleted several videos they had taken for the story. They also seized bags belonging to the two journalists.
"They were deleted straight away (the videos). The videos (of the interviews) with the Ibu RT and Mang Asep. There were three videos", they said.
A growing number of irregularities are emerging in the investigation of the fatal shooting of a police officer, Brigadier J, in a shootout with fellow officer Bharada E. at the residence of the national police's Internal Affairs Division Chief Inspector General Ferdy Sambo on July 8. These include a two-day delay between the shootout and the public announcement of the incident, changes in the police's version of events, the finding of stab wounds on Brigadier J's face, restrictions on the family seeing the body, offline CCTV cameras at the time of the shooting and statements by the local neighborhood unit (RT) chief who claimed to be unaware of the incident and the examination of the crime scene.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was " AJI dan LBH Pers Desak Polri Usut Intimidasi terhadap Wartawan di Rumah Irjen Sambo".]