Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Ralph Reganvanu says the Pacific Islands’ Forum needs to be stronger in its stance regarding West Papua.
Vanuatu is a strong proponent of West Papuan self-determination from Indonesia and has taken the battle for decolonisation to the global stage.
Mr Reganvanu said West Papua was discussed at the Forum Foreign Ministers’ meeting last year where an existing resolution about constructive engagement with Indonesia was kept.
However, he said that resolution now needs to be upgraded.
“There is a concern now that since that time there has been an escalating crisis in West Papua so at the next Forum we will be seeking to see that wording made a bit stronger because the issue in West Papua is that even though an invitation was extended to the Human Rights Commissioner to visit, it has never been honoured.”
He said humanitarian organisations and media efforts to investigate issues in the region continued to be restricted.
Mr Reganvanu said New Zealand could play a part in putting pressure on Indonesia to allow transparent investigations into alleged human rights abuses in West Papua through the Pacific Islands Forum, when he his New Zealand counterpart and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters in Port Vila yesterday.
He said the Pacific Island Forum has officially resolved that it will seek constructive engagement with Indonesia over West Papua but that wording may need to be stronger now that there has been a surge in conflict there.
Mr Reganvanu said this is where New Zealand can assist.
“International organisations, humanitarian organisations are not allowed in the territory so increased transparency and the perceived effort to try and bring these human rights abuses to an end to allow the world shine the light on what’s happening there would be welcome.
“We will be working with New Zealand in the context of the Pacific Islands Forum to make sure we step up.”
Ralph Reganvanu said Indonesia should honour its invitation for the UN Human Rights Commissioner to visit.