INDONESIA: Allegation on physical threat towards journalists in Padang should be seriously investigated 

Brig. Gen. Pol. Wahyu Indra Pramugari
Chief of West Sumatera Regional Police
Jl. Sudirman No. 55
Padang, Sumatera Barat 25231

Phone: +62 751 33416
Fax: +62 751 33416

Dear Mr. Pramugari,

The AHRC is writing to make enquiries regarding a physical threat directed against seven journalists by a civilian on 13 February 2013. We have received the information from the Press Legal Aid Institute in Padang (LBH Pers Padang) that on the aforementioned date at around 11pm, the seven journalists were accompanying the local public order agency (POA) who was about to hold an operation in Muaro Padang area. A 13 year old girl, YR, was taken by the POA in the operation. We were informed that a man and woman who claimed to be the parents of the girl were following the POA car on a motorcycle and asked the authority officers to release the girl. The man later threatened the seven journalists who were sitting at the back of the agency car, saying that he would shoot them. He took out his gun and pointed it twice to Andri Saputra as well as Citra, two of the seven journalists in the car.

YR mentioned to the journalists and POA officers that the man is an officer from South Padang Sub-District Police Station. Following this, the next day on 14 February 2013, Andri Saputra submitted a complaint on the threat to West Sumatera Regional Police with the assistance provided by LBH Pers Padang. The complaint was received by Police Commissaries Sihana and registered under police document number LP/42/II/2013 but then the case was referred to Padang District Police Station. However, we were told that there has been no investigation initiated by the police as of the time of writing.

We take this opportunity to urge you to seriously follow up the allegation of threats as complained by Andri Saputra and LBH Padang. Although the threat posed by the man was not conducted in his official capacity as a police officer, his action will be attributable to your institution should it fail to take any necessary measures to investigate the case. We wish to emphasise that under the notion of freedom of expression guaranteed by various international human rights instruments, journalists should be able to perform their duties without fear. Under Indonesian Law No. 40 Year 1990 on Press, it is also stipulated that freedom of the press is ‘one of the forms of citizens’ sovereignty based on the principles of democracy, justice and supremacy of the laws.’

Given the above we are hoping that your institution will take positive and adequate measures to hold an impartial and effective investigation on this matter. We look forward to receiving any updates regarding the development of this case.

Thank you

Yours sincerely,

Answer Styannes
Indonesia Desk Officer
Asian Human Rights Commission

Document Type : Open Letter
Document ID : AHRC-OLT-005-2013
Countries : Indonesia,
Issues : Democracy, Extrajudicial killings, Freedom of expression, Human rights defenders, Police negligence, Rule of law,