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Irian Jaya

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 10 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what steps he is taking to facilitate dialogue between the Indonesian government and representatives of the West Papuan Freedom Movement; (156434)

(2) what assessment he has made of the prison conditions of West Papua independence campaigners, with particular reference to (a) Filep Karma and (b) Yusak Pakage;

(3) what recent assessment he has made of the situation in West Papua;

(4) what representations he has made to the Government of Indonesia on the humanitarian situation in West Papua;

(5) what recent discussions he has had with the British Embassy in Jakarta on the situation in West Papua;

(6) what discussions he has had with the UN Special Representative, Hina Jilani, following her recent visit to West Papua; and what recent reports he has received from the UK Mission to the UN following the visit;

(7) what assessment he has made of the situation for environmental activists in West Papua.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has not made representations about Papua to the Government of Indonesia.

Our embassy in Jakarta regularly discusses Papua with the Indonesian authorities and pushes for greater EU engagement on human rights issues including those related to Papua. The human rights situation in Indonesia has improved considerably in recent years and we assess that President Yudhoyono is sincere in his attempts to push through reforms, including in the security sector. The current peace process in Aceh is an indication of his willingness to be flexible in trying to address some of the long-running conflicts in Indonesia, and success here will make it easier for him to address the Papuan question effectively.

We believe that the best way to resolve the complex issues in Papua is through promoting peaceful dialogue between Papuan groups and the Indonesian government. We are in contact with Papuan activist groups in the UK and encourage dialogue between them and the Government of Indonesia.

We are not aware of any specific issues concerning environmental activists in Papua.

Officials from our embassy in Jakarta have raised the cases of Filip Karma and Yusak Pakage with the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Their defence lawyer told embassy officials that prison conditions were adequate and the two men were treated reasonably.

We have urged the Government of Indonesia to uphold the rights guaranteed through the International Conventions on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ratified by Indonesia in September 2005.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is aware of the visit to Indonesia by UN Special Representative, Hina Jilani, but has had no direct discussion with her on the issue of Papua. Ms Jilani has received no reports from the UK Mission to the UN following her visit.

The UK, with our EU partners, is working towards greater engagement with the Indonesian government in support of human rights defenders. The EU presidency is in the process of discussing the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders with the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and hopes to work with them on this important issue in the near future.