Journalist stabbed, hospitalized in Indonesia

Bangkok, March 3, 2011–The stabbing of Banjir Ambarita, a freelance reporter who frequently contributes to Indonesia’s English-language daily the Jakarta Globe, appears to be related to his reporting linking police to a prisoner sex abuse scandal, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

According to Globe staff and news reports, Banjir was stabbed in the chest and stomach by two motorcycle riding assailants on Wednesday evening while walking in front of the mayor’s office in Jayapura, the capital of Indonesia’s remote Papua province. The unidentified assailants sped off.

The Jakarta Globe‘s editor, Bhimanto Suwastoyo told CPJ that Banjir’s most recent report centered on a sexual abuse scandal at Jayapura’s police detention center, where a female detainee was allegedly forced into sexual acts with three different police officers.  Banjir’s report included quotes from the alleged victim, who has since been moved to a different detention facility. The editor said he believes the attack was directly linked to his reporting on the story.

“While Indonesia’s press freedom situation has generally improved, provincial journalists still face extraordinary risks, as the attack on journalist Banjir Ambarita clearly shows,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “We call on President Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono’s government to launch a truly independent investigation, one that does not preclude the possibility of local police involvement in this attack.”

Banjir was taken to the city’s Marthen Indey Hospital and underwent surgery Thursday for a stab wound to his intestines, according to the reports. Jayapura Police Chief Imam Setiawan said his forces had established a joint investigative team with Papua provincial police and have begun work on the case, according to news reports. 

In 2010, three reporters were killed with impunity in remote provincial areas of Indonesia. CPJ research shows that all three were mostly likely murdered in connection with their work as reporters.