Indonesia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


While the constitution contains a general provision for freedom of expression, the Indonesian media remain constrained by growing legal restrictions, as well as by continuing threats and violence directed at journalists. Local and international groups expressed concern about a new broadcasting bill passed at the end of November. The bill creates a national broadcasting commission, chosen by parliament and answerable to the president, that is responsible for monitoring news content and has the power to shut down or otherwise penalize media outlets that contravene the law. The private press, freed from its Suharto-era shackles, generally reports aggressively on government policies, corruption, political protests, civil conflict, and other formerly taboo issues. However, some journalists practice self-censorship, and poorly paid reporters remain susceptible to bribery. Most private broadcast media still are owned or have management ties to the family of former president Suharto. According to the Alliance of Indonesian Journalists (AJI), the intimidation of journalists by police, the security forces, extremist religious groups, and separatist rebels, particularly in the outlying provinces, remains a serious problem. Throughout the year, AJI recorded a number of cases of violent attacks on reporters by police officers and other assailants. Foreign correspondents require special visas to enter the country and are barred from traveling to conflict areas. In March, authorities refused to renew the visa of Australian reporter Lindsay Murdoch, probably as a result of his critical reporting.