12 Feb 2015

Vanuatu buoyed by PNG's West Papua call

8:45 am on 12 February 2015

Vanuatu's government has welcomed a call by the Papua New Guinea prime minister that the time has come to speak out against human rights abuses in West papua.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

In his strongest statement yet about West Papua, Peter O'Neill said PNG had a moral obligation to no longer ignore the indigenous people of its neighbouring territory.

The Public Relations officer for Vanuatu's Prime Minister Kiery Manassah says for many years PNG found it difficult to speak out about West Papua.

"Even though in terms of the level of support (for West Papuan rights) at the grassroots level is quite big, but at the top level it's unheard of for Papua New Guinea to speak out. So for them to come out through Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to condemn the abuses is a welcome stance, and we just hope that they will continue to push that forward."

Kiery Manassah says PNG's support is crucial if the West Papua bid for membership at the Melanesian Spearhead Group is to be successful.