Mapping threats against journalists in Indonesia
06 Feb. 2019

Workshop on the mapping of threats to journalists in Indonesia and how to address these. Photo: IMS

Vigilante groups including radicals and nationalists, police and military, the corporate sector and natural disasters are amongst the main threats to journalists in Indonesia, according to a new mapping of threats to journalists in Indonesia

Following up prior assessment on the safety of journalists in Indonesia, International Media Support (IMS) conducted a threat-mapping workshop in Jakarta on 3 February in collaboration with Independent Journalists Alliance (AJI) Indonesia. 23 journalists from 22 cities across Indonesia and five representatives from media-supporting agencies: Safenet, Indonesia Legal Aid and Amnesty International took part. The workshop is part of a new intervention by IMS and partners to strengthen the safety of journalists in the country through stronger local involvement.

IMS, in its 2017 publication Defending Journalism featured Indonesia among its five Asian countries and highlighted the need for a comprehensive, coordinated safety programme for the safety of journalists in the country. The nature of threats to journalists vary depending on the local context in which they are based in Indonesia.  The causes of threats are manily from military, police, nationalist groups, and vigilantes supported by those in economic and political power, and religious radical groups.  The threats can be physical and verbal, including abuse on social media. Further more the ITE Law threatens the freedom of the press by criminalising various forms of expression.

IMS’ Dr. Ranga Kalansooriya and Red Batario shared their opinions on global and regional context of journalist safety. Red Batario, an expert of journalist safety from The Philippines, mentioned that Asia Pacific is responsible for 34 per cent of the global attacks on journalists. The Philippines’ cases helped to give the participants insights to various response techniques. Drawing on experiences from the region and sharing these at ground level is part of IMS’ strategic approach and added value in building locally anchored safety mechanisms across governments, journalist unions, media houses and international press freedom organisations in countries where journalists at times work under peril.

As part of this approach, other activities will follow the workshop that will include the development of a national safety committee set up by AJI that addresses safety of journalists’ issues and making a safety fund available for journalists with support from IMS. These two initiatives are strategically important for Indonesia’s media environment, also in light of upcoming elections where tensions run high. The initiatives will fill a void that has not previously been addressed by other media development programmes in Indonesia focusing on safety.