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The Society of Indonesian Environmental Journalists Urges Government to Free Mongabay Journalist

Philip Jacobson. Courtesy of Mongabay.com

January 23, 2020

Press Release

JAKARTA—The Society of Indonesian Environment Journalists (SIEJ) is condemning the criminalization of Mongabay journalist Philip Jacobson by the Palangkaraya Immigration Office in Central Kalimantan. Philip was arrested and detained by the immigration office on Tuesday January 21, 2020 on suspicion of visa violation while in Palangkaraya.

The Mongabay editor had already been under city detention from December 17, 2019, not long after he attended an audience of the Traditional Farmer Solidarity and the Nusantara Alliance of Customary Societies (AMAN) with the Central Kalimantan Province Legislative Council. Philip is suspected of using a business visa to conduct journalistic activities.

SIEJ deems that the arrest and criminalization of Philip Jacobson is an excessive action. Excessive because before he was made a suspect, he had already been under city detention for one month. Administrative problems regarding visa for foreign journalist so far has usually been dealt with deportation. But in Philip’s case, the immigration imposed a long legal process. This gives rise to suspicion, whether there is a serious problem behind the audience by the Traditional Farmer Solidarity and the Nusantara Alliance of Customary Societies (AMAN0 with the Central Kalimantan Province Legislative Council, especially in relations to land.

The criminalization of Philips also should be condemned because it would create a bad precedent to the climate of press freedom in Indonesia. The government has long been urged not to hinder access for the foreign press to cover Indonesia. This openness of information is really important to ensure that the rights of the public for comprehensive and objective information does not get intervened by any side. It should be suspected that the criminalization of Philip is closely related to his profession as a Mongabay journalist who is always critical in reporting on environmental issues, including in Indonesia. For our information, Central Kalimantan is among the provinces which have been suffering from quite serious forest and ground fires.

Considering the above, SIEJ is stating its position:

1. Condemns the detention and criminalization of Philip Jacobson.

2. Urges the Palangkaraya Immigration Office to release Philip Jacobson from all criminal charges filed in this case.

3. Calls on journalists not to be discouraged reporting on issues of environment and injustice in a manner that is professional and prioritizes integrity.


Press contacts:

Head of SIEJ, Rochimawati  (0812-1561-1947)

Head of Campaign, Adi Marsiela (0812-2421-675)


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