Police officer ill-treats journalist in Dekai, Yahukimo Regency

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The local media outlet JUBI has reported that one of their journalists named Piter Lokon was allegedly ill-treated by members of the police in the town of Dekai on 18 December 2019. Piter Lokon was covering a protest as a police officer approached him and reportedly hit him with his rifle butt on the hand and the waist. The bruises which Piter Lokon sustained during the attack had to be treated at the Dekai General hospital. The journalist stated that he had shown his press card to the police officer. Nevertheless, the officer attacked Mr. Lokon and subsequently seized his camera, a notebook and a mobile phone which he had brought in a traditional net bag.

The chairperson of the Association of Independent Journalists in Jayapura (AJI Jayapura), Mr Lucky Ireeuw, condemned the arbitrary attack against Piter Lokon. He urged police officers to respect the press freedom in Papua and demanded the head of the Papua Regional Police to take harsh action against the perpetrator. The attack of journalists during duty constitutes a violation of article 18 of the National Press Law No. 40/1999, which carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment and a fine of 500 million rupiahs (about $ 35.000).

According to Jubi, the protests in Dekai occurred in response to a conflict between local residents and police officers. The protests reportedly turned violent in several locations and resulted in the death of one police officer.