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Papua: Political Prisoners

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 9 September 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the imprisonment of Papuan democracy activist Buchtar Tabuni; what steps his Department has taken in response to such reports; and if he will make a statement. (289219)

Buchtar Tabuni was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for “provocation” on 3 July 2009. Prosecutors had pressed for a sentence of ten years for treason but this was rejected by the judges.

Our embassy in Jakarta have been following the trial of Buchtar Tabuni and previously met his lawyers to investigate allegations of physical abuse. They were unable to verify these claims.

My predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Bill Rammell), raised continuing UK parliamentary and public concern at the human rights situation in Papua with Indonesian Foreign Minister Wirajuda when he met him in Jakarta on 10 February 2009 and again at the Asia Europe meeting in Hanoi in May. There is frustration in Papua over poor implementation of the Special Autonomy Law of 2001. However, while problems do remain, it is important to recognise that real improvements have been made in Indonesia’s human rights situation in recent years. Our embassy staff make regular visits to Papua to discuss human rights issues with a wide range of interlocutors. The last visit was on 17-18 June 2009.