7 Mar 2006

UN official says ending Papua violence has priority over Indonesia takeover question

2:02 pm on 7 March 2006

A senior United Nations official says stopping any widespread violence in Papua now has priority over the question of UN support for the province's incorporation into Indonesia in 1969.

A low-level insurgency has left up to 100,000 people dead since the early 1960s.

The Special Adviser to the Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide, Juan Mendez, says greater scrutiny of reported rights abuses now will help to stop any large-scale violence.

"My job is not to look back and see what could have been done differently 30 or 40 years ago. It is to look to the immediate future and make sure that we prevent an outbreak of violence that can affect the civilian population on the basis of their ethnicity, race or religion."