Thursday, 12 February 2004

Questions (72)

Phil Hogan


47 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the Amnesty International report on press freedom in Indonesia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4300/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

I am aware of the Amnesty International report, "Indonesia: Press Freedom under Threat", published in October 2003, which highlights a number of cases being taken against individual journalists, as well as newspapers and magazines.

Greater freedom for the press has been one of the most promising developments in recent years in Indonesia. The passing into law of Press Law No. 40/1999 represented an important move away from previously restrictive measures. It recognizes that freedom of the press is one of the embodiments of the sovereignty of the people, and guarantees it as the human right of citizens.

On 13 June 2002, the European Commission adopted a new framework for co-operation with Indonesia, country strategy paper, covering the period 2002-06. Its primary aims are to reinforce good governance and the rule of law, assist in the reduction of poverty, reduce social unrest and assist in improving Indonesia's capacity for decentralization. As with all EU co-operation frameworks, such co-operation should contribute to encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The External Relations Council of April 2003 adopted conclusions on Indonesia. The conclusions reaffirmed the EU's aspiration to build a closer partnership with Indonesia. They stressed at the same time the importance the Council attaches to the promotion and protection of human rights in Indonesia and the importance that the government of Indonesia further pursues its commitment to human rights.

I hope to lead an EU-Indonesia Troika meeting in ministerial format in the margins of the ASEM Foreign Ministers' meeting to be held in Kildare in April 2004. We will use this occasion, and further opportunities, to raise issues of concern, including emphasizing the importance the EU attaches to the promotion and protection of human rights and freedom of speech in Indonesia.

Question No. 48 answered with QuestionNo. 44.