16 Feb 2006

Indonesian Human Rights Group criticises government line on restricted access to Papua

4:20 pm on 16 February 2006

The Indonesian Human Rights group, TAPOL, has voiced concern about statements by Indonesia's defence minister defending the current restrictions on access to Papua province for foreign journalists.

The restrictions appear also to apply to foreign NGOs and churches whose presence, according to Minister Juwono Sudarsono, might create conflict by encouraging Papuans to campaign on issues of human rights.

TAPOL says it defies belief that the government is worried about Papuans campaigning on human rights issues especially as Indonesia has now ratified the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The NGO says that hearing the defence minister speak about the need to maintain these curbs, reinforces the impression that Papua is effectively under the control of the Indonesian military.

TAPOL says there can be no justification for any restrictions on access to Papua, either for foreign journalists or for church representatives and NGOs.