Fostering safety environment for journalists to do their job and enforcing the law to fight impunity for crimes against journalists were the main discussion at the national seminar “Stop Impunity for Crimes against Journalists” organized on 2 November 2019 at Atma Jaya University by UNESCO, British Embassy in Indonesia, and Committee of Safety of Journalists Indonesia.
Journalists, diplomatic representatives, civil society organizations as well as students participated in the half-day event to mark the commemoration International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists (IDEI) 2019.
Cases on violence against journalists in Indonesia present as persistent challenge faced by journalists and media community, which also undermines the freedom of expression in Indonesia. In his opening remarks, British Ambassador to Indonesia and non-resident Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, H.E. Mr Owen Jenkins also reinstated “Journalism is an important pillar in democracy. The media plays an important role in spreading information to society.”
Indonesian journalists continue to face numerous threats and violence, from physical attacks, verbal violence, and online doxing. According to the record from Committee of Safety of Journalists, 42 cases on violence against journalist has been recorded since January to October 2019 following the escalation of the political situation in Indonesia. The committee also note that six cases of journalists’ killings remain unsolved since 1996 without clear procedure of settlement.
Reflecting on the seriousness and magnitude on violence against journalists, concrete action and commitment from all parties – including state apparatus and individual civilian is crucial to end impunity; particularly the cooperation from state apparatus in resolving cases on violence against journalist. The coordinator of the Committee on Safety of Journalists, Mr Sasmito Madrim, also mentioned that enforcing the law with clear procedure on violence against journalists is the strongest medicine to stop the impunity.
Mr Ming Kuok Lim, Communication and Information Advisor UNESCO Office in Jakarta, highlighted that safety of journalists is an important priority as journalist has a noble job to report and provide quality of information as well as truth to the public. In light to the work of safety of journalists, UNESCO is the United Nations specialized agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. The issue of safety of journalists and ending impunity are also recognized in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 16 on Peace, Justice, and Strong Resolution.