UN High Commissioner for Human Rights visits Indonesia

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The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, visited Indonesia from 5 to 7 February 2018. At the end of this trip, he gave a press conference in which he expressed his concerns regarding various human rights issues in Indonesia, among other things, about the human rights situation in West Papua: "I am also concerned about the reports of excessive use of force by security forces, harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention in Papua."

He added that the Indonesian government had invited the UN to visit West Papua. "I think it's important that we travel there and see for ourselves what's going on there [...] and I hope this can happen as soon as possible". His office is now preparing for an observation mission. An exact time for the visit was not announced during the press conference.

Al-Hussein praised Indonesia for its commitment in the Rohingya refugee crisis, but demanded that the right to freedom of expression needs to be respected and human rights defenders be protected. He criticized the agricultural companies whose activities had led to land grabbing and environmental degradation. The high commissioner also expressed his concerns over the plans to revise the penal code, which could result in the discrimination of poorer and marginalized population segments. “If we expect not to be discriminated against on the basis of our religious beliefs, colour, race or gender, if Muslim societies expect others to fight against Islamophobia, we should be prepared to end discrimination at home too,”

Reports of human rights violations in West Papua have provoked criticism from activists and the international community. Despite the international criticism, the Indonesian government continues to restrict access for foreign journalists to the West Papua region. In recent months, dozens of people - especially children - have died in the Asmat region of West Papua due to malnutrition and infectious diseases such as measles. Due to the health crisis, the government was accused that its efforts to promote economic development in the region are not for the benefit of the population.

Read the full statement here