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AJI calls for end to press freedom violations in annual statement

(AJI/IFEX) - The following is a 24 August 2007 AJI press release:

Press Statement on the 13th Anniversary of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI)
STOP Violence and Criminalization against the Press!

On the occasion of its 13th anniversary, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia announces its figures on incidents of press freedom violations recorded in 2007, the most dangerous provinces/cities for journalists, and the 2007 Enemy of Press Freedom.

During the period of August 2006 to August 2007, the AJI recorded 58 cases of press freedom violations and violence against journalists occurring in various provinces and cities in Indonesia. During the same period the prior year, AJI recorded 61 cases.

The most dangerous provinces or cities for journalists and the press in 2007 were the Jakarta Special Region (15 cases of press freedom violations), East Java (nine cases), as well as West Java and Banten (eight cases each). During the same period the year before, the province with the highest rate of violations was the Jakarta Special Region (13 cases), followed by East Java and Aceh (eight cases each).

Meanwhile, the 2007 Enemy of Press Freedom went to the government, which was responsible for 10 violations of press freedom. The second most frequent perpetrator was mobs, responsible for seven cases, while third place went to the Security Unit Corps (Satpam), responsible for six cases. During the same period the year before, the Enemy of Press Freedom in Indonesia was mobs (23 cases), followed by the government (14 cases) and the police (eight cases).

In the government category, AJI highlights the role of the prosecuting apparatus, which contributed four violations by indicting, prosecuting or executing sentences against journalists. Some examples include the cases against Teguh Santosa (Rakyat Merdeka Online), Erwin Arnada (Playboy Magazine), and Eddy Sumarsono (Investigasi Tabloid) - all of whom were tried at the South Jakarta District Court - while Risang Bima Wijaya (Radar Yogya editor) was tried at the Sleman District Court.

To coincide with its 13th Anniversary in August 2007, the AJI:

1. Condemns all forms of violence (physical/non-physical) by any parties against journalists or the press, committed with the intention of hampering or obstructing their work and controlling/threatening press freedom, which is protected by the law.
2. Demands that the government stop all acts of violence, censorship, obstruction and bribery aimed at journalists, and calls on the government to set a good example by respecting press freedom and the work of journalists.
3. Urges the halting of efforts to criminalize the press/journalists by law enforcers, when the cases are related to news reports. AJI calls on all parties to solve their disputes with the press by taking recourse to Law Number 40 Year 1999. This law provides the mechanism of the right of reply, stipulates the supervisory role of the Press Council, and calls for the press to always work professionally and according to the standards of journalistic ethics.

Jakarta, August 24, 2007

Heru Hendratmoko

Eko Maryadi
Coordinator of the Advocacy Division

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