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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7660

West Papua

Dear Mrs Wicks

Thank you for your letter of 26 March 2018 regarding petition EN0492 on Indonesia's Papua provinces.

Australia has long recognised Indonesia's sovereignty over the two Papua provinces. This is a bipartisan position in Australia, underlined by the 2006 Lombok Treaty between Australia and Indonesia. Indonesian sovereignty is also widely recognised by the international community.

Officials from the Australian Embassy in Jakarta visit the Papua provinces regularly and engage widely there, including with civil society, NGOs and religious leaders. Former Attorney-General, the Hon George Brandis QC, also made an official visit to Papua in 2016 and met with local human rights activists.

These visits inform our ongoing assessment of the situation, which we judge has improved in recent years. Although problems remain, information obtained through Australian government engagements does not support assertions of genocide in Papua.

Australia condemns all violence in Papua and we raise the issue of human rights with the Indonesian Government regularly and at all levels. Our consistent message is the rights of all its citizens, including those in Papua, should be upheld and credible allegations of human rights abuses should be investigated, with those responsible held to account.

In May 2017, Indonesia again participated in the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review in Geneva. In September 2017, Indonesia accepted numerous recommendations, including Australia's recommendation that Indonesia finalise the investigation of all unresolved human rights cases in Papua.

We have highlighted to Indonesia the need for credible observers, including journalists, to have access to Papua. In May 2015, President Widodo announced the lifting of restrictions for foreign journalists seeking to enter Papua. Australia encourages Indonesia to implement this undertaking fully. We will continue to monitor closely and engage with Indonesia on developments in Papua.

Australia welcomes Indonesia's focus on improving economic development in Papua, including President Widodo's personal commitment to develop the provinces. Indonesia's development-led approach has contributed to an improvement in the overall situation in recent years.

Australia's aid program is an economic partnership with Indonesia, helping it leverage its own resources to achieve its development goals. In the Papua provinces, we work in a range of sectors with multiple layers of government, from the local to national level, to ensure that more people benefit from the country's economic development.

I trust this information is of assistance.

Yours sincerely

from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms Bishop