Indonesia should penalize reporters for biased news on Papua: Journalist

Saiful Hadi said that the penalty issue is related to the government`s policy on providing foreign journalists open access to enter Papua.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The executive director of Indonesian news agency Antara, Saiful Hadi, said that Indonesia should penalize journalists, including those from abroad, who broadcast biased and imbalanced news about Papua.

"We should subject journalists to a strict penalty if they broadcast news on Papua that is based on fictive information and data," he stated here on Tuesday.

Hadi added that the penalty issue is related to the governments policy on providing foreign journalists open access to enter Papua.

The form of penalty to be given should be discussed with the Indonesian Press Council with the hope that journalists, including foreigners, maintain professionalism in their reporting.

Hadi pointed out that the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Tedjo Edhy Purdijanto had also said that the foreign journalists would be allowed enter Papua and West Papua on the condition that they avoid slander that tarnishes Indonesias image.

One way to reduce reporting biased news is to improve the abilities of public relations officers of local administrations so journalists get valid information and data, he suggested.

"This way, news about Papua will be balanced and positive," Hadi affirmed.

Imbalanced reporting was one of the reasons the Indonesian government severely limited the arrival of foreign journalists to Papua, besides safety factors and indications of support for the separatist movement in the province.

"The provinces of Papua and West Papua are part of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, and the subject is no longer debatable, according to the UN General Assembly Resolution Number 2504 of November 19, 1969," he emphasized.

Moreover, regarding the sanctions for domestic and foreign journalists, the Indonesian Press Council encourages people to take action in accordance with the code of ethics and Law Number 40 of 1999 on the press.

"We have put forward the right to answers and correction," a member of the press council I Made Ray Karuna Wijaya said.

The Indonesian government has given freedom to foreign journalists to cover all areas of Papua, including the Papua and West Papua provinces.

This policy was announced by President Joko Widodo on Sunday, May 10, long after Indonesia prevented foreign reporters from covering Papua.(*)