New York, October 24, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today’s conviction and sentencing to prison of French documentary filmmakers Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat on charges of breaking immigration laws in Indonesia. The two were sentenced to two months and 15 days in prison and are expected to be released next week because of time served, according to news reports citing their lawyer.
“Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat should never have been jailed for immigration violations,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. “The conviction and sentencing call attention to local authorities’ sensitivity to scrutiny, and could intimidate journalists who seek to shine a light on Indonesia’s restive provinces.”
Dandois and Bourrat have been detained since early August after entering the country on tourist visas to report on the separatist movement in the restive eastern region of Papua for the Franco-German TV channel Arte, according to news accounts. Foreign journalists are required to obtain a journalist visa in order to work in the country, but working in Papua and West Papua is deemed sensitive, and reporters must obtain additional permission from the country’s foreign affairs department and an array of government officials, according to reports. Last month, CPJ wrote to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as he was nearing the end of his term, calling for their release.