Sign up for weekly updates

Indonesia: Official inaction perpetuates impunity in 1996 murder case

Nineteen years after the murder of Indonesian journalist Fuad Mohammad Syfruddin, those responsible for his death have not been brought to justice. Udin, as he was popularly known, was attacked on 13 August 1996 by unknown assailants in his home and died three days later from the injuries sustained in the attack. An investigative journalist for the Yogyakarta daily "Bernas", Udin had reportedly written articles on land disputes and local government corruption.

In this 2014 file photo, a mural depicting journalist Udin is pictured in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
In this 2014 file photo, a mural depicting journalist Udin is pictured in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

TEMPO/Anang Zakaria

This statement was originally published on on 9 September 2015.

The International Partnership Mission for Indonesia submitted this Open Letter to Indonesian President Joko Widodo urging him to properly investigate the murder of journalist Udin 19 years ago.

9 September 2015

His Excellency Joko Widodo
President of the Republic of Indonesia
Istana Merdeka
Jakarta Pusat 10110, Indonesia

CC: General Badrodin Haiti, Kepala Polisi RI

Dear President Widodo,

We, the International Partnership Mission for Indonesia (IPMI) and the Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI), strongly urge for you to call for a full and thorough investigation into the murder of journalist Fuad Muhammad Syafruddin (Udin).

Udin, a journalist at the daily Bernas newspaper in Yogyakarta, was attacked by two men outside of his home on 13 August 1996. He died from his injuries three days later. Initial Police investigations focused on a theory that the murder stemmed from an affair, although this has now been discredited. Independent investigations, including by AJI, uncovered evidence that the murder was in retaliation for his reporting into alleged corruption and election rigging. In December 2014, the IPMI released a series of recommendations on freedom of expression in Indonesia, which included a call for Indonesia's government to reopen investigations into Udin's murder and to allocate the necessary resources to identify and prosecute his killers. Although the Sleman Court ruled that Udin's case is still open, there has been no sign of progress or any indication that the government considers this case to be a priority.

Attacks against journalists are violations of the right to expression, and impunity for the murder of journalists threatens Indonesia's democracy. Nineteen years on, Udin's unsolved murder places Indonesia's human rights record into question. Official inaction perpetuates impunity, and in Udin's case it has left family, friends and colleagues without justice for nearly two decades. Udin's unresolved murder is not an isolated case, and it reflects a wider culture of impunity in crimes against journalists.

The IPMI reiterates that Indonesia has an obligation under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to investigate Udin's murder properly, and to protect the right of journalists to practise their profession in safety. We urge you to press upon the Indonesian police to launch a properly resourced investigation into Udin's killers. We further call on the Indonesian government to invoke a provision under the Constitutional Court to investigate the mishandling of the initial investigation.

Click here for a full list of the IPMI recommendations on protecting freedom of expression in Indonesia.


Aliansi Jurnalis Independen/Alliance of Independent Journalists
Committee to Protect Journalists
International Federation of Journalists
Southeast Asian Press Alliance

Centre for Law and Democracy
International Media Support
LBH Pers Indonesia Network
Tifa Foundation

What other IFEX members are saying

Latest Tweet:

With this mass execution, #SaudiArabia carried out over 100 executions so far in 2019, including 40 for drug offens…

Get more stories like this

Sign up for our newsletters and get the most important free expression news delivered to your inbox.