New York, November 18, 2009—The Committee to Protect
Journalists condemns the Indonesian government’s decision to deport Raimondo
Bultrini, a reporter with Italy’s weekly L’Espresso, and Kumkum
Dasgupta, an assistant editor with India’s Hindustan Times, for lacking accreditation.
The two reporters were arrested and interrogated for several
hours by police on Tuesday and later handed over to immigration authorities in
Riau province in the center of Sumatra,
according to local news reports. They were allowed to stay in a hotel after
several hours of questioning and were deported today through the national
the reports said.
Both journalists were covering protest activities staged by
the environmental activist group Greenpeace against deforestation around the
Peninsula. Two Greenpeace
activists were also deported on immigration violations. According to reports, the
journalists said they believed they held the proper permits for news reporting.
“The deportation of journalists Raimondo Bultrini and Kumkum
Dasgupta is wholly out of step with Indonesia’s recently improved press
freedom situation,” said Shawn W. Crispin, CPJ’s Southeast Asia Representative.
“The expulsion of foreign journalists harks back to the country’s authoritarian
past, not its democratic present.”
Jumanter Lubis, head of Riau province’s immigration office,
told the state-run Antara news agency that the two reporters were deported
because they lacked journalistic permits to report from the area and violated
the terms of their tourist visas. He also said that while foreign journalists
may work on tourist visas, they must obtain news coverage permits from the
Ministry of Communications and Information, according to the Jakarta Post.
The rapid and continued destruction of Indonesia’s
tropical rain forests is an increasingly sensitive news story amid growing
concerns about the impact deforestation has on global climate change. Indonesia is a
high carbon emitter and politically powerful corporations involved in clearing
land for palm oil plantations and paper production contribute largely to the
has achieved significant press freedom gains since the 1998 downfall of former
dictator Suharto and the implementation of democratic reforms. Nonetheless,
reporters are still frequently barred from certain sensitive areas of the
country, including the eastern Papua province, where the military has come
under fire for abuses in combating a low-intensity separatist insurgency.