Vanuatu brings West Papuan issue to 39th session UN Human Rights Council

Indigenous Peoples

The Republic of Vanuatu would like to thank the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) for their work in promoting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of indigenous peoples.

With regard to the annual report of the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples I would like to draw your attention to the situation in West Papua.

According to the International Coalition for Papua the past three years shows a pattern of cases of intimidation and attacks against Papuan human rights defenders. Clearly, the Indonesian government has not yet achieved any significant improvement concerning the protection of human rights defenders. Human rights defenders in West Papua live in fear of being subjected to coercive measures, aimed at obstruct their work, including surveillance, criminalization, treason-stigmatization and threats to physical integrity. During the past year, indigenous human rights defenders, whether defending their ancestral lands like in South Sorong or Boven Digoel, or defending fundamental human rights by exposing unjustifiable sweeping, torture, house-burning against civilians by security forces in remote areas like villages in Mimika or Nduga, and other violations such as illegal mining in Koroway, have been facing criminalization by Indonesian authorities. As the Special Rapporteur has pointed out, this forms a serious impediment of the local rights defenders’ ability to express their concerns, which otherwise will never get into public attention as Indonesia has not fulfilled its promise to grant access of foreign journalists into the region. The severely restricted environment for human rights defenders in West Papua is further fueled by widespread impunity and the lack of adequate government policies aimed at providing protection to indigenous rights defenders.

Vanuatu respectfully requests the Special Rapporteur to pay attention to the recent reports of NGO’s  of human rights violations of the indigenous people of West Papua as well as information which might contribute to the study on free and prior consent by EMRIP.

Enforced Disappearances and Arbitrary Detention
The Republic of Vanuatu wishes to thank the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances  and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for their important work investigating cases of arbitrary detention and in assisting families to determine the fate of their disappeared family members.
Vanuatu wishes to highlight an issue of regional concern in the Pacific which does not attract sufficient attention here in this Council or from UN special procedures. Vanuatu raises its concern with ongoing enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention directed at the indigenous people of West Papua, particularly against those exercising internationally protected rights to speak out about West Papua’s claim to self-determination.
As Tapol reported – in the first week of September alone – 93 West Papuans were unlawfully and arbitrarily
arrested and detained for engaging in peaceful protests in West Papua. Vanuatu is concerned that many were
arrested for participating in protests in support of the work of Vanuatu and the United Liberation Movement
for West Papua at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting held last week. Independent NGO’s have
demonstrated that such detentions are discriminatory because they target certain Papuans in violation of freedom of speech and therefore fall within the Working Group’s definition of arbitrary detention.
Vanuatu condemns Indonesia’s continued practice of arbitrary arrest and detention of indigenous Papuans
exercising their internationally protected rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Vanuatu notes the concern raised by the Working Group on Indonesia’s failure to respond to its request for a visit.
Vanuatu calls upon Indonesia to allow access to UN special mechanisms to be able to address and report
upon this systematic and ongoing problem.
Mr President,  a Polish national and a West Papuan student have been jailed because they have posted a video clip on Facebook in West Papua. I wanted to ask whether posting a video clip on Facebook could be considered as treason?
Thank you,

39th session UN Human Rights Council

September 19, 2018,  12:00-15:00 Hours

(01 Mn 30 Sec )

ITEMS 3 & 5 – Clustered ID with:

  • SR on indigenous peoples
  • Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP)