Indonesian govt can’t neglect internally displaced Papuans - UN requests detailed information

The UN Human Rights Committee is officially asking the Indonesian government to inform about the measures taken to protect refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons (IDPs) who have fled due to the conflict in West Papua. The Human Rights Committee (CCPR), the body that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), has adopted the list of issues prior to reporting (LOIPR) of Indonesia at its 129th session (29 June to 24 July). The document also asks Indonesia about Papua/West Papua in relation to violence against women, right to life, peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, the establishment of local parties in the context of Special Autonomy, and authorities responses to self-determination/referendum calls. The Indonesian government is now requested to respond to the LOIPR in the country's second periodic report.

Based on data collected by local organisations, the ICP has published a report showing that more than 41,851 indigenous Papuans from the regencies of Mimika, Intan Jaya, Puncak, Lanny Jaya, and Nduga (see image) in Papua province were internally displaced between 4 December 2018 and early March 2020 because of security force operations. In some of the affected regencies, the IDPs received temporary aid from civil solidarity movements or/and government agencies. However, a large number of IDPs have been left to themselves and feel neglected by the Indonesian government. They are trapped in multiple Papuan cities where they live in church facilities, temporary shelters, or with relatives. The central government has continued to deploy additional military forces to manage the conflict in the provinces of Papua and Papua Barat, which has had far-reaching consequences for many indigenous Papuans.

Moreover, the Human Rights Committee requests the Indonesian government to inform on statistical data on the IDPs and their living conditions and measures taken to prevent spreading of the COVID-19 among them. The ICP has called for humanitarian access to IDPs in West Papua, especially now that the number of COVID-19 cases in the province of Papua is rising. A population living in an area affected by armed conflict, weakened by fighting, destruction, and displacement, is particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-2019. The living conditions of IDPs, either in crowded shelters or in their relatives' homes, is likely to facilitate rapid transmission of the coronavirus. Moreover, the medical infrastructure, already deficient before the arrival of IDPs, is expected to be quickly overwhelmed. The pandemic will further restrict access to essential services and humanitarian aid.

The ICP reasserts its call for the Government of Indonesia to:
• Allow international humanitarian organisations to access West Papua
• Allow access to international observers and foreign journalists so that they can freely report on the human rights situation in West Papua
• Withdraw non-organic troops from the regencies of Nduga, Mimika, and Intan Jaya to allow IDPs from these areas to return to their villages
• Instruct relevant government agencies at provincial and regional levels in the province of Papua to provide basic health care, education, and social services to IDPs until they can return to their homes.

Background Information:

In July 2013, the UN Human Rights Committee concluded its first review of Indonesia under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Indonesian version). While Indonesia was obliged under the convention it had acceded to already in 2006, to submit a report for a 2nd review years ago, the committee has now started to initiate the 2nd review instead.

While covering a much larger area of civil and political issues in Indonesia, the 6-page document does specifically ask Indonesia about Papua/West Papua in relation to violence against women, right to life, IDPs, peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, the establishment of local parties in the context of Special Autonomy, and authorities responses to self-determination/referendum calls. It finally asks about measures to end racial discrimination against indigenous Papuans in the context of protection of minority rights. The Committee specifically asks for the publication of updated census data disaggregated by indigenous/ethnic background.

The document List of Issues prior to reporting is available on the UN OHCHR website for download.

Read more about what UN mechanisms observe and recommend regarding human rights in West Papua.