JAKARTA (ANTARA News/Pacific Media Watch): The executive director of the national news agency Antara, Saiful Hadi, says Indonesia should penalise journalists, including those from abroad, who broadcast biased and imbalanced news about the West Papua region.
"We should subject journalists to a strict penalty if they broadcast news on Papua that is based on fictive (sic) information and data," he said.
Hadi added that the penalty issue is related to the government's 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, maintained 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 the two Melanesian provinces of Papua and West Papua on condition that they avoid slander that tarnished Indonesia's image.
One way to reduce reporting biased news is to improve the abilities of public relations officers of local administrations so journalists got valid information and data, he said.
"This way, news about Papua will be balanced and positive," Hadi said.
Unbalanced 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 pro-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 said.
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 counci,l 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, after many years of Indonesia preventing foreign reporters from covering Papua.
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