Jayapura, Jubi – The Alliance of Independent Journalist (AJI) Kota Jayapura said that the Papua Police’s statement that foreign journalists are engaging in propaganda to harm Indonesia reflected his lack of understanding of journalists’ work.
Papua Police Spokesperson Senior Police Commissionaire Rudolf Patrige Renwarin said journalists would be allowed to enter Papua if they ” objectively reported on positive issues in Papua, for instance about ongoing development; Papuans are no longer isolated or underdeveloped but already advance instead; it would be positive”.
He earlier said “foreign journalists are sometimes undertaking propaganda by broadcasting the false news and associated with Papua separatist group so that would harm Indonesia in the international spotlight.”
AJI Kota Jayapura said the Indonesian Press Law regulates the work of journalists in Indonesia, including the foreign press.
“The Press Law No.40/1999 clearly regulates the act of foreign press in Indonesia,” AJI Kota Jayapura Chairman Victor Mambor via email to Jubi on Wednesday (6/5/2015).
“However, under the law, foreign journalists are not obligated to report positive news during their stay in Indonesia,” he said.
He further said wherever they report, journalists must adhere to the code of ethics. “So a journalist for wherever he goes or come from has an obligation to report in an accurate, equal, factual and objective manner and will be responsible to the public instead of certain group or institution, even to media cooperation where it work for,” said Mambor.
AJI Kota Jayapura further said the police’s statement should be question since it directly accused the foreign press to lie and associate with separatist group as well as to harm Indonesia in the international spotlight. According to him, based on the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as conveyed by Director of Information and Media of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Siti Sofia Sudharma in the public discussion on Press in Papua dated 29 April 2015 at the Press Council, of 317 foreign journalists visited Indonesia in 2012, only five were permitted to come to Papua after eleven applications. And of 322 foreign journalists visited Indonesia in 2013, twenty-one of twenty-eight journalists who proposed to cover the reportage in Papua were permitted. Meanwhile in 2014, 322 foreign journalists were recorded coming to Indonesia, and among this number, 27 were proposed to visit Papua but only 22 got the entry permit.
“Papua Police, could it indicates how many reports by 48 foreign journalists within the last three years were not true, associated with the separatist group or harm Indonesia? If it was true, what is the indicator of these allegations? If they expected only positive reports, they should change the Press Law. It means the Press Law should be amended,” Mambor firmly said.
In addition, AJI Kota Jayapura observed the police has become the dominant sources for any news related to separatist group. And to encounter any news that possibly harm Indonesia, it’s the responsibility of Ministry of Foreign Affairs instead of Regional Police to make clarification.
AJI Kota Jayapura recorded up to 2015, the foreign journalists still have limited access to Papua. An institution called “Clearing House’’ that consist of 19 Units and 12 ministers has become an institution that restricts the access of foreign journalist to make report in Papua. Moreover, those who managed to gain access to Papua often being followed or escorted in doing their reportage; thus it restricted them in doing their job.
“Every year there are four to five foreign journalists who asked me about the situation in Papua. Most of them were not able to come to Papua. Based on their information, I can make conclusion that they were not well served when applied the proposal to make reportage in Papua. They even did not receive any responses, whether they had permission or not,” said Mambor.
In commemorating the World Press Freedom Day 2015, AJI Indonesia stated the access restriction against journalist in Papua could only give the worse impact to the people of Papua as well as Indonesia. The access restriction would trigger the numbers of sites that separated from the principles of journalism that put the verification and confirmation as priority.
“The circulation of information in the Internet can not be prevented and verified, while the journalist also find difficulties to work because of the restriction. The open access for journalist in Papua would provide the public with more credible and reliable information, further it could be also the trusted information for the Government of Indonesia, said Suwarjono, the General Chairman of AJI Indonesia. (Arnold Belau/rom)