Foreign journalists based in Indonesia on Thursday condemned the deportation of two reporters from Italy and India who had covered a recent Greenpeace demonstration in the country.
Raimundo Bultrini of the Italian L’Espresso weekly and Kumkum Dasgupta, an editor with the Hindustan Times, were forced to leave the country on Wednesday, the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club said in a statement.
“The Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club is deeply concerned about the detention and deportation of two foreign journalists who were reporting on a Greenpeace protest against deforestation in Indonesia,” it said.
“Free reporting and movement of the media should be protected as a cornerstone of democracy. We strongly protest the apparent violation of press freedom and request immediate clarification from immigration authorities.”
Police detained the journalists and questioned them for several hours on Monday after they tried to report on uncontrolled deforestation in Pelalawan district, Sumatra Island.
They were told they would be deported for failing to obtain local permission to be in the area, but the JFCC said there was no such requirement.
“We at the JFCC would like to know on what grounds the two journalists were expelled. What exactly were their ‘illegal activities’ and on which law or regulation were the deportations based?”
Reporters Without Borders, a media rights watchdog, said on Tuesday it “deplored” the arrests and accused police of acting on behalf of powerful pulp and paper companies.
“These arbitrary arrests of accredited journalists are unacceptable. Do we have to point out that the police are not supposed to take their orders from industrial conglomerates?” it said in a statement.