Licensing / Media Regulation, Press Freedom
Burundian Journalists’ Union v. Attorney General
In Progress Contracts Expression
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Two British journalists and their film crew (comprised of nine Indonesians) were arrested in September 2015 in relation to a documentary they were filming for National Geographic. The filmmakers entered the country on a tourist visa and were charged with violation of immigration laws because they did not obtain a press visa. They were found guilty and sentenced to two months and fifteen days in jail as well as a fine of $2,500.00 (US).
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Two British journalists were sentenced to two months and 15 days in jail for filming without the appropriate “press visa.” These press visas can take months to process and require the submission of the film proposal as well as letters of recommendation and resumes. According to the Court, the journalists’ tourist visas did not cover filming, and although traditionally violations of the press visa result in deportation, there is a trend towards jailing and fining individuals who violate the press visa law. Violation of the press visa law can subject an individual to up to five years in prison.
The accompanying film crew was arrested for violating Law No. 33/2009 (making a documentary without a license), which can carry a sentence of up to two years in prison or a fine of $769,230.00 (US).
The Batam District Court Court found the journalists guilty of violating Indonesian immigration laws, but with time served, the journalists only had to stay in the country an additional two days (for a full sentence of two months and fifteen days, much of which was served through house arrest). The film crew has not yet been sentenced.
Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.
This decision contracts expression by fining and imprisoning journalists for filming without first obtaining a press visa. The requirement of obtaining a press visa to film seems to be a way for the government to obstruct journalists from reporting on important issues in Indonesia.
Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.
Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.
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