Indonesia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Although the constitution contains a general provision for freedom of expression, media freedom remains under threat from the government and other actors. Political and business leaders are increasingly resorting to filing criminal defamation cases against media outlets; several editors were charged and convicted during the year. Almost all of the national broadcast media are owned by firms closely connected to the friends or family of former president Suharto, although the new broadcasting law, if implemented, may help to dilute this concentration of influence by forbidding media cross-ownership. The private print press, while at times shoddy and sensationalist, 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 are susceptible to bribery. Press freedom in the province of Aceh deteriorated sharply after the military launched a May offensive against the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Martial law administrators limited the access of foreign journalists to the province and forbade local reporters to print statements from the GAM rebels or stories about military atrocities. One journalist was killed in December during a gun battle between troops and rebels after being kidnapped by the GAM in June. A colleague being held hostage with him remained missing at the end of the year. Journalists throughout Indonesia continue to face intimidation and occasional attacks by police, the security forces, paid thugs, religious extremists, and political activists. The Alliance of Independent Journalists recorded several dozen violent attacks during 2003, in addition to a number of cases of threats and harassment.