Indonesia deports two French journalists from West Papua

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Indonesia has deported two French journalists from the province of Papua. Jean Frank Pierre and Basille Marie Longhamp were shooting a documentary film on the nature and culture of the Papua Province and were forced to leave the country via Timika airport last Friday. Officials in Jakarta said that the two had ordinary visas without the required permits to work there.

Though sponsored by the Indonesian airline Garuda Indonesia, Pierre and Longchamp had allegedly started filming before the necessary working permits were issued. They have been banned from entering Indonesia for the next six months.

The Indonesian government has been repeatedly criticised for the de facto ban on free reporting from inside the conflict area of West Papua. Although President Joko Widodo has publicly said that the region is open to foreign journalists, the reality shows that West Papua is still a no-go area for reporters. Extremely long and bureaucratically difficult procedures to obtain working permits make it virtually impossible for foreign journalists to legally work in West Papua. In 2014, two French journalists were even jailed for two and a half months before being deported for shooting a documentary in West Papua.