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AJI calls on police to arrest perpetrators of attack on its office in Palu

(AJI/IFEX) - The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has urged the police to immediately investigate and arrest the perpetrators behind a 30 December 2010 attack on the AJI office in Palu, Central Sulawesi, which also functions as the office for the http://www.beritapalu.com online media outlet.

AJI considers the attack to be a form of harassment against the press, terrorising journalists who are merely trying to disseminate information to the public. Needless to say, Indonesian journalists are protected by Press Law No. 40 Year 1999.

Two journalists were hurt when some 30 members of the Kaili Youth Front (FPK) attacked the office in Palu because they were dissatisfied with a news report published by Beritapalu.com on 28 December. The news story, entitled, "FPK attacks Graha KNPI in Central Sulawesi", reported on the group's earlier assault on the office of the local Indonesia National Youth Committee because its members were angered by their leader's defeat in his bid for the chairmanship of the committee. During the attack on the AJI office and Beritapalu.com, the suspects destroyed furniture and beat up Iwan Lapasere, chairman of the AJI Palu branch, and Muhammad Sharfin. Both are correspondents for the Jakarta-based Global TV.

Given that the suspects were clearly identified as members of the FPK, the police should have arrested them since immediate action is very important to prevent the perpetrators from eliminating evidence or escaping justice. Fair law enforcement is of key importance in protecting journalists as AJI records show that, of 37 violent actions against journalists in 2010, only two cases have been brought to court. This shows that law enforcers, inadvertently or not, allow violent actions to be committed against journalists.

The neglect on the part of law enforcement agencies and the resultant impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators has made it possible for violent actions to be committed repeatedly against journalists in the past few years.

"The police should show that Indonesia is a state that upholds law and order by arresting the perpetrators of the attack on the AJI office in Palu," AJI Indonesia chairman Nezar Patria said.

AJI called on the police to end the impunity in cases of violent actions against journalists by prosecuting the perpetrators. Furthermore, AJI also urged the police to investigate other cases of violent attacks against media workers that have not yet been investigated.
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