On a number of occasions recently, I set out the Government's position with reference to the situation in Papua. I am aware of reports of difficulties being experienced by human rights defenders and international monitors in Papua. The Government regards the safety and freedom of human rights workers as an integral part of the promotion and protection of human rights. At the April meeting of the EU External Relations Council, Ireland and its EU colleagues adopted revised Council conclusions on Indonesia. The conclusions reaffirmed the importance we attach to the promotion and protection of human rights in Indonesia. The conclusions stressed the importance of bringing all perpetrators of human rights violations to justice, and emphasised the importance of actively promoting peaceful solutions to the internal conflicts in Indonesia, including that of Papua.
My colleague Deputy Kitt, Minister of State with responsibility for overseas development and human rights, recently met Mr. John Rumbiak of the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy. Mr. Rumbiak gave a briefing on the situation in Papua, including recent events in the central highlands. The Minister of State informed Mr. Rumbiak that the Government continues to monitor the situation closely and will continue to encourage the authorities in Indonesia to act with full regard to the human rights and interests of the people of West Papua. As the Deputy will be aware from previous replies, I raised issues of particular concern, including the human rights situation in Papua, with the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Mr. Wirajuda, at the EU-Asian Foreign Ministers meeting at Brussels in January 2003. I hope to have a further opportunity to do so when I meet the Minister at the ASEM Foreign Ministers meeting which he will host in July. Ireland and its EU partners will continue to support the development of a strengthened dialogue and partnership between the EU and Indonesia. The Government sees this as the most effective way of addressing its serious concerns about the human rights situation in Papua.