CPJ condemns attack on pregnant Indonesian reporter

New York, March 5, 2013–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an attack on Saturday against a pregnant journalist covering a land dispute in East Kalimantan province, Indonesia. CPJ calls on authorities to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation that leads to the apprehension of all those who participated in the brutal assault, which the journalist said had led to a miscarriage.

Normila Sari Wahyuni, 23, a reporter for Paser TV, was interviewing a person involved in a land dispute in Rantau Panjang village when she was approached by the village chief and a dozen other men, local reports said. The men tried to confiscate her camera, and then proceeded to drag her. The journalist, who said she was one month pregnant, told local news media that the men tore apart her clothes and kicked her in the stomach and elsewhere.

Wahyuni said she told the attackers she was a journalist and displayed her credentials, but they continued beating her. She said the men threw her camera into a nearby pond, according to the reports. A villager passing by found Wahyuni and took her to a local hospital, reports said.

“This egregious assault on a journalist at work must be properly investigated and the perpetrators must be brought to justice,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “In addition to the appropriate criminal charges, authorities must prosecute the perpetrators under Indonesia’s press law to signal that attacks on journalists are completely unacceptable.” 

Paser District Police Chief Ismajuddin said the reporter had filed a complaint against the village chief, the only attacker she recognized, for aggravated assault, and an investigation will take place, according to local reports.

In addition to assault charges, the assailants could face prosecution under Article 18 of Indonesia’s Press Act. The law imposes a prison sentence of up to two years or a maximum fine of 500 million Indonesian rupiah (approximately US$50,000) for anyone who impedes journalists seeking and disseminating information.

Impunity has been common in past attacks against journalists working in Southeast Asia’s largest economy and most populous country. Three men charged with the 2010 murder of television journalist Ridwan Salamun were acquitted in March 2011 by a district court.

  • For more information and analysis, please visit CPJ’s Indonesia page.