16 Feb 2007

Australia-Indonesia pact violates human rights commitments says ACLU

5:07 pm on 16 February 2007

Civil Liberties Australia, the ACLU, has warned that the government's security pact with Indonesia goes against the country's obligations under international treaties to campaign for human rights.

The pact, signed in November, aims to improve relations between the two neighbours and underlines Australian support for Jakarta's sovereignty over restive provinces like Papua.

But the ACLU has told the Treaties Committee of parliament, which is yet to approve the pact, that parts of the document are at odds with Australia's democratic values.

The ACLU's chief executive, Bill Rowlings, says there is concern that the treaty might provide a cover for human rights abuses in Papua.

"Now it's undoubtedly a problem in West Papua. There are ongoing human rights abuses there. They're reported in the media - even yesterday's Jakarta Post reported claims of further human rights abuses in West Papua. So the people need an outlet and they need friends rather than people who are signing agreements with Indonesia that indicate we will be taking less interest."

Bill Rowlings says the Australian parliament should insist on a yearly reporting and monitoring role in Papua.