26 Jan 2014

Greens say stop Indonesia police help

8:48 am on 26 January 2014

The Green Party says New Zealand's policing assistance programme in Indonesia should be stopped after reports of police brutality in the province of West Papua.

Journalist and academic Paul Bensemann visited West Papua to research his thesis last year and said some of the people he spoke to were the victims of Indonesian police and military brutality.

He said he spoke to 22 people during his eight-day visit, including victims of police brutality, church leaders, lawyers, human-rights workers and journalists.

Mr Benseman said he has no doubt people have been shot on the streets for raising independence flags, because the Indonesian government fears the independence movement.

In October, the Government announced it is spending $6.34 million on a three-year assistance programme in which New Zealand police will train and mentor their Indonesian counterparts.

Green MP Catherine Delahunty said New Zealand is assisting a police force contaminated with violence and which exercises power inappropriately and the programme should be stopped.

She said the money could be better used to help mediate for peace between West Papuan independence leaders and Indonesia.

Mr Bensemann said New Zealand has the best intentions in getting involved but the Indonesian police in West Papua do not have an equal relationship with the locals.

"If we think we can turn the Indonesian police in West Papua into community policemen who walk the beat and go into coffee shops and have a genuine, equal relationship with Papuans - I think we're dreaming."