Indonesia slams UN Human Rights office over planned Papua visit

Indonesia has criticized the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, saying that his regional office in Bangkok should first coordinate with the government before sending a mission to Papua, instead of demanding immediate access. (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari)

JAKARTA, (THE JAKARTA GLOBE) – Indonesia has criticised the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, saying that his regional office in Bangkok should first coordinate with the government before sending a mission to Papua, instead of demanding immediate access.

“It is deeply regrettable that the staff members of his regional office in Bangkok, instead of coordinating the planned visit with Indonesian authorities, have unilaterally set the dates and areas to visit in Papua and West Papua, while demanding immediate access,” Hasan Kleib, Indonesia’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The statement, delivered during a general debate session at the United Nations in Geneva, came in response to a
remark by UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who said the government’s invitation to his office to visit Indonesia’ easternmost provinces had not yet materialised.

“In Indonesia, I am concerned that despite positive engagement by the authorities in many respects, the government’s invitation to my office to visit Papua – which was made during my visit in February – has still not been honoured,” Zeid said during the 38th session of the Human Rights Council on Monday.

During his three-day visit to Indonesia in February, Zeid expressed concern over the excessive use of force by
Indonesian security forces, harassment, arbitrary arrests and detentions in Papua.

He was in the country at the time to meet with government officials, who invited his office to visit the country’s poorest region.

According to Hasan, the UN human rights chief informed the Indonesian government that his regional office in
Bangkok would represent him on the visit.

In a follow-up, Hasan said staff of the regional office “misleadingly acted” as if a mutually agreed schedule was
already in place for the visit, but that the Indonesian government had yet to grant them access.

He added that this conduct was deplorable.

Hasan said Indonesia is still committed to invite Zeid or his office to visit Papua but asserted that the regional office in Bangkok must respect the principles of consent by the host government in the future.

For years, political grievances and an active independence movement in Papua have generated headlines, in spite of the government’s focus on economic development to improve the situation.

In a report published in November last year, the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict said Papua has suffered
human rights violations in the past, while there are ongoing issues of torture, excessive use of force, lack of
accountability and restrictions on civil liberties.