In Indonesia, journalist’s home targeted, child dies

New York, December 16, 2011–Indonesian authorities should conduct a full investigation into Sunday’s attack on the home of a journalist who reported on local corruption, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The journalist’s one-month-old child died soon after the attack.

Dance Henukh, who wrote for the local newspaper Rote Ndao News in Kuli Village in East Nusa Tenggara province, told local journalists that he believed he had been attacked for reporting a story on local officials allegedly misappropriating a portion of 3.1 billion rupees (US$344,000) intended for a housing project for migrants, news reports said. The journalist told The Jakarta Post that a village head had sent a group of men to attack his house.

At 1 a.m. on Sunday, a mob began throwing stones and pieces of wood at Henukh’s house. The journalist’s one-month-old child died two hours after the attack. No official death was announced, but news accounts reported that the child died from shock. “My baby died at around 3 a.m. Sunday,” the journalist told the Post. Two days later, another group of people returned in the middle of the night and set Henukh’s house on fire, the Post reported. The journalist and the rest of his family escaped unharmed, but were unable to collect any of their belongings, news reports said.

The police had not yet carried out an investigation into the incident, local news reports said.

“Indonesian journalists who confront the local power structure in remote areas bear the brunt of attacks, and the death of an infant in this case makes it even more tragic,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Aggressive investigations and prosecutions of the perpetrators are rare. The national government must intervene and make sure justice is served.”

CPJ research shows widespread impunity in attacks on journalists. Of the nine journalists killed for their work in Indonesia since 1992, arrests have been made in only two of the cases, CPJ research shows. Six of the journalists killed since 1992 had reported on official corruption, according to CPJ research.