11 Nov 2015

NGO claims mixed results on Jakarta's Papua media policy

9:01 pm on 11 November 2015

Human Rights Watch says Indonesia's new policy on foreign media access to West Papua has had mixed results.

It's six months since President Joko Widodo announced that restrictions on foreign journalists visiting Papua were being lifted.

While a handful of foreign journalists have visited, HRW says there is extremely uneven implementation of Jokowi's policy.

The Governor of Papua Province, Lukas Enembe, (far left), welcomes the Indonesian President Joko Widodo. In 2014.

The Governor of Papua Province, Lukas Enembe, (far left), welcomes the Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Photo: AFP

HRW Asia's deputy director Phelim Kine says that within elements of Indonesia's government and security forces, there remains severe resistance to allowing access to Papua.

"It's going to be a long-term process to bring those elements of the government and security agencies who have implemented these restrictions over more than a quarter of a century to step back and to allow foreign media to actually allow foreign media to actually have that unimpeded access that President Joko Widodo - to his credit - has announced should be the case."

Phelim Kine says foreign NGOs, UN rights experts and academics remain restricted from visiting Papua.

HRW is today releasing a new report, "Something to Hide? Indonesia's Restrictions on Media Freedom and Rights Monitoring in Papua", which also documents regular self-censorship by journalists based in Papua and the security forces' manipulation of local media outlets.

Mr Phelim Kine says the president's announcement in May was welcome but has been very unevenly applied.

He says it's important that president Widodo send an explicit directive on the policy for all Indonesian security agencies and ministries to follow.

"The absense of that document in a bureaucratic system provides wide wiggle room for bureaucrats to not let people go to Papua. The second thing - and this is hugely important - the government needs to lift its restrictions on access to Papua by international non-government organisations, UN experts and foreign academics."