Hansard Papua: Human Rights

27 Feb 2008 : Column 1707W

Papua: Human Rights

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in West Papua; what recent diplomatic steps he has taken on that issue; and if he will make a statement. [188343]

Meg Munn: Indonesia has undergone a remarkable transformation over the last 10 years. Overall the human rights situation has improved significantly. Nevertheless, we recognise that many challenges remain and we continue to hear reports of human rights abuses in Papua. Many of these are difficult to verify but there do appear to be problems with access to justice and intimidation of human rights defenders.

We judge that the Indonesian government is committed to promoting development efforts in Papua and further improvements in the human rights situation. We welcome their increasing openness to international scrutiny, as evidenced by their invitations to the UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, Hina Jilani, in June 2007 and Professor Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, in November 2007, to visit Papua.

Our embassy in Jakarta follows the situation in Papua closely and embassy officials were in Papua most recently from 15 to 20 February. While there, they held discussions with local officials, non-governmental organisations and representatives of religious organisations, on a range of issues, including human rights. We continue to support organisations working to promote human rights in Papua, such as Peace Brigades International.

I met the Governor of Papua, Barnabus Suebo, on 25 October 2007. We discussed the situation in Papua, including human rights. We will continue to raise our concerns with the relevant authorities.

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