human rights in Papua

Since the downfall of the Suharto regime, Indonesiahas improved its human rights standards significantly. Now that the conflict in Aceh has been settled and the peace process seems to progress very well, this seems even more so the case. Indonesiawas elected a member of the UN Human Rights Council in 2006 and has been re-elected in 2007. The country ratified several human rights treaties (under which the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment). Indonesia's easternmost part, however, shows a gloomier image.


Freedom of expression

Severe restrictions on access to Papua for human rights monitoring groups, journalists, academics and international organisations such as the UN, make reliable information on the conditions in Papua hard to come by. News of alleged human rights violations is mostly transmitted by word of mouth. Human rights workers on the island from national and local monitors are frequently intimidated. Peaceful political activists are labelled separatists and non-violent activities--such as the raising of the morning star flag--have been heavily punished through criminal law. There are numerous well documented cases of torture and ill treatment by police officers.



In the Central Highlands region, where a low-scale independent resurgence simmers, army troops and police units engage in largely indiscriminate village 'sweeping' operations. In pursuit of suspected militants, they use excessive and sometimes lethal force. People who have fled their villages suffer from starvation and illnesses.

The Human Development Index of Papua is the single lowest in Indonesia. While Indonesia's economic indicators show a slight growth, the economic indicators of Papua, although the provinces are rich in natural resources, show a decline. It seems that those profiting most from this richness are the foreign and Jakarta-based multinationals and businessmen, not the indigenous population of the easternmost part of Indonesia.

Papuans suffer the poorest standards of education, health and life expectancy in Indonesia. HIV/Aids prevalence in Papua amounts to fifteen times the national average, while almost half of the Papuans are unaware of the illness altogether.

further reading



The Human Rights situation 2010 in the land of Papua


Listen to our voice: Making the case against Torture in West Papua


Indonesia: Abuses by Special Forces continues in Papua (Human Rights Watch, June 2009)


Police abuse and impunity in Indonesia must be ended (Amnesty International, 2009)







Launch of the ISHR Simple Guide to the UN Treaty Bodies

The Geneva Based International Service for Human Rights relaunched its Simple Guide to the UN Treaty Bodies. It aims to provide human rights defenders and their organisations with a broad overview of the UN human rights treaty body system and its functions to support their effective engagement with the treaty bodies.






Managing Papuan Expectations After

Handing Back Special Autonomy


In his latest publication Fr. Budi Hernawan OFM addresses (1) the drama of handing back the Special Autonomy Law (SAL) to identify the Papuans’ political expectation; (2) the current status of human rights conditions to explore Papuans expectations on justice; (3) the economic developments that have led to Papuans’ expectations on prosperity.




Komnas HAM Papua


Palm oil in Papua


Papuans displaced by military operations in the central highlands remain unassisted

13 October 2010, report by: IDMC & NRC


How Sinar Mas is expanding its Empires of Destruction (Greenpeace 2010)


Get up, stand up: West Papuans stand up for their rights (Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Sydney University - July 2010)


Prosecuting Political Aspiration - Indonesia’s Political Prisoners, Human Rights Watch, 2010


Update on the Human Rights situation in Papua - first quarter 2010


Unkept Promise (Human Rights Watch, 2009)


A decade of democracy in Indonesia: The 2009 legislative election; report of International Election Observation Mission (The Asian Network for Free Elections ANFREL)


What did I do Wrong?: Papuans in Merauke Face Abuses by Indonesian Special Forces (Human Rights Watch, June 2009)


“Saya Bikin Salah Apa?” Kopassus Siksa Orang Papua di Merauke (Human Rights Watch, June 2009)


Unfinished Business: Police accountability in Indonesia (Amnesty International, June 2009)


World Report Human Rights Watch 2009: events of 2008.pdf


Amnesty International Country Report 2009


US Department of State Human Rights Report Indonesia 2009


Shadow Report to the Committee against Torture (2008).pdf

Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights monthly West Papua Reports


Websites; a Human Rights Resource for West Papua