Foreign Minister should raise human rights and press freedom in West Papua during Indonesia visit

With the Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, scheduled to visit Indonesia tomorrow, Australia’s leading human rights organisation has called for a forthright discussion about human rights abuses in the Indonesian province of Papua. Human Rights Law Centre spokesperson, Tom Clarke, said Australia is well positioned to play a meaningful and constructive role in helping to address the continuing human rights crisis in Papua.

“Given Australia’s pledge to use its seat on the UN Security Council to be a ‘principled advocate of human rights for all’, Foreign Minister Bob Carr shouldn’t be shy in raising his concerns about the human rights crisis in West Papua,” Mr Clarke said.

Although Indonesia is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it is regularly criticised for routinely inhibiting fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association.

Mr Clarke said the Foreign Minister should be capitalising on Australia’s unique relationship with Indonesia to push for international media access to the troubled province.

“Media access is such a simple and reasonable request, yet its impact would be profound. Having independent journalists on the ground in West Papua would help the world get a better picture of the human rights crisis there. It would be significant step towards addressing that crisis,” Mr Clarke said.

The Human Rights Law Centre believes Australia has a critical leadership role on human rights in Asia and the Pacific and should take a principled and proactive stand on human rights with a key partner such as Indonesia

“We don’t want a situation arising where Australia is happy to stand up for human rights on the other side of the world, but isn’t willing to speak out about human rights abuses occurring on our doorstep. Consistency strengthens Australia’s important human rights advocacy and is in our national interest,” said Mr Clarke.