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Journalist task force aims to end violence

Alarm grows over attacks on media workers

Journalist groups in Indonesia have formed a new task force to combat what they say is a rising tide of violence against media workers.

Following a number of recent high-profile cases including a female journalist who suffered a miscarriage after an attack last week, the Organization of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, the Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI) and Indonesian Television Journalists Association on Tuesday said they would work together to tackle the problem.

Kamsul Hasan, chairman of the PWI, said on Wednesday that the new organization would work with police to process data on violence against journalists and push for stricter penalties.

Indonesia currently employs its press law to prosecute those who attack journalists with maximum sentences of just two years.

“Applying the press law to prosecute perpetrators has no deterrent effect,” said Hasan. “The penalty is too light.”

Last week, 23-year-old TV reporter Nurmila Sari Wahyuni was interviewing a victim of a land dispute in the province of East Kalimantan when she was allegedly attacked by a group including the village leader. She later miscarried.

According to the Press Council, this assault was the ninth attack against a journalist this year. Last year, there were 68 such cases, a steep rise on the 49 assaults recorded in 2011.

“Press activities are risky at this time and journalists have become the targets of attacks,” said Press Council member Yoseph Adi Prasetyo. “I hope that the task force will take firm steps to bring about significant changes to the life and work of journalists.”

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