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AJI denounces South Sulawesi police chief's harassment and intimidation of the local press

(AJI/IFEX) - The following is a 24 June 2008 AJI press release:

AJI responds to a statement by the South Sulawesi police chief

During the 2nd South Sulawesi Regional Press Jamboree, held in Makassar on 30 May 2008, South Sulawesi Police Chief Insp. Gen. Sisno Adiwinoto said that people did not need to exercise their right to respond in their disputes with the press and could, instead, directly file complaints to the police.

This was not the first time the police chief had made this intimidating suggestion. On 19 May, Sisno Adiwinoto made a similar statement when delivering a speech before regents and mayors across South Sulawesi in the office of the South Sulawesi governor. The police chief said that sometimes journalists do as they like when publishing stories, so that the images of government officials become negative in the eyes of the people. "Just file a report to the police if you have objections," the police chief said.

The press community has expressed concern over the police chief's statements, which they see as suggestions to the public to ignore the mechanisms of settlement of disputes or public dissatisfaction over media reports, in accordance with the Press Law. Law No. 40, Year 1999, stipulates a series of mechanisms for the resolution of such disputes via the right to respond and the right to issue a correction.

On 31 May, South Sulawesi journalists, who form part of the Coalition against Press Criminalization, compiled signatures in opposition to the police chief's statement. In addition, the coalition staged a protest on 3 June in Makassar.

AJI has stated that it:

1. Regrets the statement of South Sulawesi Police Chief Insp. Gen. Sisno Adiwinoto, who suggested that the public directly report a journalist whose report is considered harmful to police. This statement has clearly ignored the mechanisms already provided for by Press Law No. 40, Year 1999.

2. Supports the efforts and acts committed by journalists in South Sulawesi, particularly those who have joined the Coalition against Press Criminalization, to fight against efforts to criminalize the actions of journalists who carry out their profession in line with the journalistic code of ethics.

3. Calls on the public to keep prioritizing press-related dispute settlements through the mechanisms provided by the Press law, namely through the right to respond and the right to issue a correction.

Jakarta, 24 June 2008

Heru Hendratmoko

Abdul Manan
Secretary General

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