Press freedom still pending in Jokowi’s second term
After President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo failed to keep his campaign promises about respect for press freedom during his first five-year term, his reelection in May 2019 was followed by rioting during which many journalists were targeted. His pro-media comments are belied by the drastic restrictions on media access to West Papua (the Indonesian half of the island of New Guinea), where violence against local journalists keeps on growing. Foreign journalists and local fixers are liable to be arrested and prosecuted there, both those who try to document the Indonesian military’s abuses and those who cover humanitarian issues. The authorities also no longer hesitate to disconnect the Internet at times of tension. As the Jakarta-based Alliance for Independent Journalists often reports, the military also intimidate reporters and even use violence against those who cover its abuses. Radical religious groups also threaten the media’s right to inform. Many journalists say they censor themselves because of the threat from an anti-blasphemy law and the Law on “Informasi dan Transaksi Elektronik” (Electronic and Information Transactions Law). In 2020, the government took advantage of the Covid-19 crisis to reinforce its repressive weaponry against journalists, who are now banned from publishing not only “false information” related to the coronavirus but also any “information hostile to the president or government” even if it is unrelated to the pandemic.
124 in 2019
36.77 in 2019