17 Oct 2014

HRW calls for Indonesia to free French journalists

2:17 pm on 17 October 2014

The group Human Rights Watch has called on the Indonesian government to dismiss charges against two French journalists in Papua and end restrictions on foreign media there.

Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat face trial on Monday on charges of abusive use of entry visas after being detained while producing a documentary for Franco-German Arte TV.

They have been held since August and risk five years in prison.

The deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, Phelim Kine, says the Indonesian government's chokehold on Papua media coverage has effectively turned foreign journalism in the province into a criminal activity.

The government justifies its restrictions on media access to Papua as a necessary security precaution due to the ongoing conflict with the OPM.

Human Rights Watch says the broad-brush government restrictions on foreign media access to Papua go beyond what is permissible under international law.