Jayapura, Jubi – The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) said it welcomed President Joko Widodo’s decision to allow foreign journalists to conduct journalistic activities in Papua unhindered.
But the president must make good on his promises, AJI Indonesia Chairman Suwarjono and AJI Papua Chairman Victor Mambor told Jubi on Monday (12/5/2015).
The restrictions on reporting especially for the foreign journalists in Papua have occurred since the integration of Papua into Indonesia.
Foreign journalists wishing to come to Papua for reportage must apply through the Clearing House that consists of twelve ministries and government agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Police, the State Intelligent Agency and the Coordination Ministry for Politic, Law and Security.
This mechanism has become the government’s tool to restrict journalists in making free reportages on Papua. Further the mechanism of clearing house is not transparent since it does not have a clear legal basis.
AJI said the first step to opening access to foreign journalists could be done by dissolving the Clearing House. Foreign journalists should have freedom to cover Papua like what they do in other provinces. At the local level, the freedom of press should be indicated with no intimidation against the foreign journalist, such as being spied, followed or terrorized that might constrain their journalistic activities. This freedom must be applied for other regions in Indonesia such as in the Central Sulawesi or Aceh.
AJI considered that the opening access for journalist in Papua would be a beginning of improvement for Papuan community. The issues of corruption and human right violation that slightly protected and perpetuated for certain people could be easily revealed. Whoever the actors, human right criminals or corruptors are, they must be sent to prison. But on the other hand, the progress of development in Papua would also easily seen by world community. Thus, with transparency and disclosure, it could bring improvement for Papua in the future. While the Central Government in Jakarta the central government in Jakarta would get equal and verified information as it perform good journalistic standard.
The wide opening access for journalist is evidence of the freedom of press prevailing in the entire territory of Indonesia. The freedom of press is a proof that there is no more discrimination against the people of Papua. It is also the fulfillment of public right towards information in accordance to the Law No.40/1999 of Press, which said the freedom of press is guaranteed as basic right of citizen and in order to guarantee the freedom of press, the press has a right to search, obtain and distribute any ideas and information without censorship, ban or broadcast prohibition.
In addition to giving appreciation, AJI Indonesia will continue to control and monitor the free access for foreign journalist. AJI pushed the government to issue a guarantee, not only a speech. It could be a progress if the president provides guarantee by issuing regulation to justify what he has said in the public.(*/rom)