Sharp increase in international concern about Papua

23 May 2012

Indonesia's human rights record reviewed at UN Human Rights Council

Today, Indonesia's human rights record was reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council during the 13th session of the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva, Switzerland. Concerns about human rights in Papua increased sharply since the last review in 2008, with a significant number of member States raising concerns about freedom of expression, human rights defenders and political prisoners in the region.

“While Indonesia today said it is using a ‘welfare and development’ approach in Papua, the continued presence of thousands of troops and dozens of political prisoners suggests otherwise,” said Paul Barber, Coordinator of TAPOL.

TAPOL and United for Truth (Bersatu Untuk Kebenaran, BUK) submitted a report to the review process, making recommendations to improve the human rights situation in Papua by ending the stigmatisation of peaceful political activity, repealing repressive legislation and releasing political prisoners.

Concerns raised by TAPOL based on inputs from local NGOs were picked up by a number of member States during the review. Switzerland and Mexico were among those States questioning Indonesia’s worrying human rights record in Papua, joined by regional neighbours New Zealand and Japan. The United States called for action on Indonesia’s repressive treason laws, backed by Canada and Germany who further called for the release of peaceful political prisoners.

While Indonesia today announced that it intends to issue an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Mr Frank La Rue, it was unclear whether he would be guaranteed free access to the Papua provinces.

Restrictions on access for foreign media and civil society were challenged by a number of States including France and Australia, while Germany called for immediate access for the ICRC, who were ejected from Papua in 2009.

“The international community has today sent a clear message to Indonesia that the human rights situation in Papua is totally unacceptable,” noted Barber. “With increasing regional and international engagement on the issue, the pressure is on for Indonesia to provide a meaningful response.”

Contact: Paul Barber, TAPOL Coordinator, +44(0)7747 301739

Tagged: UN, West Papua