Surakarta, Central Java (ANTARA) - The Ministry of Communication and Information has reiterated the government's commitment to maintaining press freedom in Indonesia and protecting journalists in performing their work.

"The government supports press freedom. However, we need to properly manage press freedom and prevent any negative excess on it, such as a decline in news reporting quality," the ministry's director general of information and public communication Usman Kansong said while opening a photography exhibition at the National Press Monument here on Wednesday.

The photography exhibition on Joko Widodo's Presidency in the 2014–2022 period was organized as a part of the 2023 National Press Day under the theme of “Free Press, Dignified Democracy,” he noted. The day is commemorated on February 9 every year.

He said that the government is committed to protecting press freedom as it has been mandated by prevailing laws.

"The public is concerned that the KUHP (Indonesia's Criminal Code) restricts the press freedom, yet the KUHP has not a single article mentioning the press except for one, which is not directly related to the press as it regulates publishing, not the press," Kansong expounded.

As the press has its own regulations codified in the Press Law, any issues that arise during journalism work will be resolved by the law instead of the Criminal Code, he affirmed.

"Colleagues active in the press need not be concerned about press freedom. For instance, on the insult to the head of state, I believe there is not a single case when a press report about the head of state is sued to the court and reported to the police," the director general said.

Meanwhile, Kansong emphasized the importance of verified media, which will be essential for media and journalists' protection, and encouraged media agencies to register with the authority.

"Regarding legal issues, verified media will be processed according to the Press Law, while unverified media will be processed by the UU ITE (Electronic Information and Transactions Law) and the KUHP," he informed.

Media verification is also essential for the government to address problematic and obscure media agencies, he added.

"Otherwise, Indonesia's journalism world will decline, as (issues appearing in) our digital realm would be exacerbated by the reluctance to verify to the Press Council," Kansong said.

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Translator: Aris Wasita, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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