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Written Answers. - Human Rights Abuses.

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 551 No. 3

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Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will support the call for re-examination of the 1969 Act of Free Choice which confirmed West Papua's incorporation into Indonesia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10275/02]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): As the House is aware from the previous questions to which I have replied, the Government remains concerned about the situation in Papua and the human rights situation in particular. I am very aware of the outstanding questions about the circumstances surrounding the 1969 Act of Free Choice in Irian Jaya, and the role of the UN in that process. On whether the matter should be revisited, I have made clear previously that Ireland was not a party to the 1969 Act, and it is not within this Government's power to re-examine the outcome of the Act.

On the question of a possible UN review of the events of 1969, this would be a matter for the UN Secretariat and the UN Secretary General. Procedurally, re-opening the issue would require the support of UN member states. Our mission to the UN informs me that at present there appears to be no significant support among UN member states for a review of the 1969 decision. There is no intention on the Secretariat's part to re-open the issue. Furthermore, I would be concerned that such a review may prejudice ongoing efforts to initiate a peaceful and meaningful dialogue with the Government authorities in Jakarta and would not contribute to the amelioration of the current situation of the people.

Of primary concern to the Government are reports of ongoing human rights abuses in Papua [793] and in particular allegations of military police involvement in such violations. This issue has been taken up at EU level and a team of EU ambassadors has just returned from a visit to Papua last week. There they met leading human rights groups in the region, representatives of the Catholic and Protestant churches, members of the Papuan Preasidium Council and tribal leaders as well as government representatives and military commanders in the region. I look forward to their report, which will be the basis for discussion at EU level. Their report will also be examined in the context of the EU's proposal to develop a political dialogue with the Indonesian government. This dialogue should include human rights as an important area for discussion and in particular the situation in the regions. At UN level, Ireland is currently attending the Fifty-Eighth Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva where the EU plans to highlight its growing concern about the human rights situation in Indonesia.

Question No. 58 answered with Question No. 51.

Question No. 59 answered with Question No. 32.

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