5 Mar 2018

Papua report omissions frustrate NZ activist

5:23 pm on 5 March 2018

A human rights activist has expressed frustration at omissions from reports by New Zealand diplomats about their visits to Indonesia's Papua region.

Maire Leadbeater presents her petition asking urging the government to address the ongoing human rights situation in West Papua.

Maire Leadbeater presents her petition urging the government to address the ongoing human rights situation in West Papua. Photo: RNZ / Daniela Maoate - Cox

Maire Leadbeater has made a series of Official Information Act requests for reports about trips to Papua by New Zealand's Ambassador to Indonesia, Trevor Matheson and colleagues.

In 2016 and 2017, New Zealand diplomats in Indonesia made a number of visits to the troubled Papua region, also known as West Papua.

Ms Leadbeater said the reports she had received mention who they had met and what they had looked at in the visits, but specific material had been redacted out.

"When it comes to the really nitty-gritty stuff, like human rights issues, like issues to do with impunity for security forces, or things like political prisoners, or freedom of assembly, any of those sort of really critical things, the passages seem to be redacted out."

Maire Leadbeater said complaints to the Ombudsman about such reports being heavily redacted had not been successful.

She said New Zealand's apparent deferral to the priorities of its bi-lateral relationship with Indonesia's government meant it was overlooking the well-being of West Papuans.

"The fact that their (the Indonesian government's) voice is listened to isn't necessarily a good thing for the people of West Papua if it simply means we're listening to the voices of the established order.

"We need to be listening to other voices in West Papua," she said.

"We need to be listening to those young people who currently can't even unfurl a banner or stand on the street to say what they want."

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