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Renewed calls for UN visit to West Papua after torture video surfaces online

A West Papua freedom movement leader is renewing calls for a UN human rights visit to Papua after new videos of Indonesian soldiers torturing a West Papuan man emerged online.

In the video viewed by RNZ Pacific, a group of men wearing Indonesian military uniforms take turns kicking, punching and slicing an indigenous Papuan man.

He was in an open 44-gallon drum filled with water with his hands tied behind his back.

The president of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Benny Wenda, said he is truly horrified by the video that he says has emerged from the Yahukimo regency in Highland Papua.

He said the men can be heard saying in Indonesian "my turn, my turn" and comparing their captive's flesh to that of an animal.

RNZ Pacific has contacted the Indonesian government for comment.

In 2018, Indonesia's then president Joko Widodo extended an invitation to the UN Human Rights Commissioner to visit Papua but it has so far not eventuated.

Wenda is calling on the international community to pressure Indonesia into facilitating the visit.


PORT VILA, VANUATU (25 March 2024): The Inaugural Committee for Reinforcing Commitment and Obligation towards the MSG (CRCO) was successfully convened at the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat on 15 March 2024.

Chaired by Mr Kalfau Kaloris, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade of Vanuatu, the CRCO was convened to examine the institutional, regulatory and operational mechanisms in Members’ bureaucracy that might be affecting commitment to, and cohesion of the MSG and the effective implementation of MSG Leaders’ decisions.

The same issues were examined of the Secretariat and suggestions to strengthen its operations, commitment to the MSG and the effective implementation of Leaders mandates were put forward.

During opening statements, Members reaffirmed their commitment towards the MSG and its objectives. They also noted the Secretariat’s efforts to strengthen its operations and capacity needs and undertook to improve their support to the Secretariat with its work. 

Additionally, they reiterated their commitment towards ensuring that the MSG continues to be relevant, and that the cohesion of the Group is further strengthened to ensure it plays an effective leadership role in the region on matters of particular interest to the MSG Members.

Members agreed to the need for adjustments and strengthened cooperation within the MSG Membership in the changing regional and global political and economic landscape.

In terms of Legislative, Members called for the need to review the Agreement Establishing the MSG, among other things, to make it consistent with International Law and practice. The review would ensure a stronger and versatile subregional Organization, that MSG will remain faithful to its original objectives and truthful in the service of its Members interests, and the Organization will remain relevant amidst changing times.

With regards to operational matters, Members urged for concerted efforts to be made to increase the visibility of the MSG as a Group and the Secretariat, and aggressively promote what the MSG does.

Among other things, Members acknowledged the importance of the Committee’s work and agreed for the CRCO to become a Standing Committee of the MSG that would report to the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) directly and endorsed that the outcome of the discussions be presented to and considered by the MSG Governing Bodies.

Committee Members in attendance were Chairman, Mr Kaloris; Ambassador Amena Yauvoli, Fiji’s Ambassador to Indonesia; Mr Patrick Jomessy, Representative of the FLNKS Political Bureau; Mr Elias Wohengu, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs of Papua New Guinea (online) and Ambassador Collin Beck, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Solomon Islands.


PORT VILA, VANUATU (18 March 2024): The National Ocean Policy and Marine Spatial Plan is an important instrument in ensuring that the Ocean and its eco-system are developed and managed in a sustainable way to ensure our people can benefit from its eco-services.

These were the words of the Director General of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat while delivering his keynote address during the Vanuatu National Ocean Policy and Marine Spatial Plan Workshop at the Ramada Hotel on 11 March 2024.

He stated that together MSG countries constitute some 8.5 million square kilometers of the total EEZ in what is now fondly referred to as the Blue Pacific Continent. And, while this is a very significant swath of blue ocean real estate, consequently, ocean governance must feature prominently in the MSG echelons of our policy concerns and priorities. 

MSG Members he said, share with each other extensive coastlines and huge coastal communities that straddle our borders, communities whose food bowl is the ocean and the attendant marine ecosystems, and if managed responsibly, we will ensure their economic prosperity. 

He noted that according to an SPC report, subsistence inshore fisheries contribute between 28 - 96% to the overall value of fisheries to the GDP of Melanesian countries – Fiji 82%, Vanuatu 96%, Solomon Islands 38%, PNG 28%, and New Caledonia 70%, and that even with the high value tuna fisheries, MSG countries continue to be significant players in that fishery.

“While trends suggest that tuna is gradually moving eastward, the fishing effort in, and catch data from, the MSG countries is substantial, suggesting that our fishing grounds are still rich with fish stocks. Concomitantly, revenue from this fishery is important in the national budgets of MSG countries,” he added.

DG Louma re-emphasised the importance of the ocean and the coastal fisheries to our people with the provision of food security, employment, recreational value and a lot of our culture is closely linked to activities pertaining to the marine life. 

“The political boundaries, drawn at the convenience of our colonial masters at that time, and accepted by our countries at independence, divided tribal and customary communities, cut through swaths of seagrasses and seaweeds, ran through contiguous coral reefs, divided fishing grounds that once could be accessed equally by the coastal communities and created an unnecessary inconvenience to our people that live in the surrounding border areas. 

“And while it is necessary to conclude delimitation of our maritime boundaries, I am hoping that efforts towards this and developing ocean management in our part of the world do take into account these intricately woven shared features,” he said.

DG Louma said, “we owe it to our people living along the maritime borders, to devise a corridor for them to engage in cross border commercial activities”. 

Traditional communities divided by colonial drawn borders he said, must be allowed to visit their relatives easily and while we are already doing that in the MSG, more can be done by developing mechanisms to assist traditional coastal communities along the border to jointly manage their shared traditional fishing grounds, whether it be in relation to sedentary marine resources or pelagic fishery. 

DG Louma said he is confident that the MSG can lead the way in this regard. 

“We, at the Secretariat, are gradually unpacking the MSG Roadmap for Inshore Fisheries Management and Sustainable Development 2015- 2024 with shared responsibilities of our ocean and marine resources very much in our minds. 

“One of the guiding principles of the MSG Inshore Fisheries Roadmap is – “A Melanesian partnership approach, which builds on and shares the diversity of experiences, while recognising the differences between the MSG members socio-cultural setting, etc”. 

He also informed participants that the MSG Fisheries Technical Advisory Committee (FTAC) is scheduled to meet 14-15 August this year and the MSG Fisheries Working Group will be meeting soon after to consider the recommendations of the MSG FTAC.

Caption: DG Louma delivering the keynote address at the Vanuatu National Ocean Policy and Marine Spatial Plan Workshop at the Ramada Hotel.

China’s donation of six boats to transform Island connectivity

China will donate six boats to the Government of Vanuatu to enhance connectivity between the islands across all six provinces.

This announcement was made by the Chinese Ambassador to Vanuatu, Li Minggang, during the signing and handover ceremony of Chinese aid, valued at over VT239 million, to Prime Minister Charlot Salwai on Friday, the 15th of March.

The VT239 million aid represents the goodwill of the government and people of the People’s Republic of China towards the government and people of the Republic of Vanuatu.

It is expected to assist the Vanuatu Government in recovering from Tropical Cyclones (TCs) Judy, Kevin, and Lola, better managing natural disasters, and implementing the National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP) 2016-2030.

According to the Prime Minister’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Hilaire Bule, the Chinese Government was the first to offer assistance to the Vanuatu Government following the Development Partners meeting held at Ramada Resort on Thursday, the 14th of March, with the Department of Strategic Policy, Planning and Aid Coordination (DSPPAC).

The PRO said the six boats are estimated to be 15 meters long and 4.3 meters wide, with a speed of 35 knots.

These boats will be distributed to the six provinces of Vanuatu, marking the second such donation by the Chinese Government after the MV Southern Star and MV Northern Star.

“The first two ships were designed for freshwater, causing them to deteriorate quickly.

“However, with these new six boats, the Chinese Ambassador will engage with Ports and Marine and the Vanuatu Maritime Authority to discuss his plans for the boats before their arrival in Vanuatu,” said the PRO.

He also mentioned that there will be a Council of Ministers (COM) document prepared by the relevant Ministry and Department detailing how they will manage the six boats upon their arrival in the country.

“The Prime Minister acknowledges the Chinese Government for making this offer, as it addresses his concerns raised during the Development Partners meeting at Ramada last week.

“He emphasised the ongoing connectivity issues between the islands of Vanuatu,” Mr. Bule added.

“Government officials often rely on chartering planes, particularly for destinations like Torres Islands.

“However, the introduction of these boats will facilitate transportation for Government officials to Torres once they reach Sola, as well as in PENAMA, MALAMPA, and other provinces.

China’s offer to donate six boats to Vanuatu, with each boat allocated to a specific province, will directly address the challenges posed by the country’s geographic fragmentation.

By providing each province with its own vessel, transportation between islands within each respective province will be greatly improved.

This targeted approach ensures that isolated communities within each province can enjoy better connectivity and access to essential services, thereby addressing the logistical hurdles posed by Vanuatu’s dispersed island geography.

Additionally, the boats can enhance disaster response capabilities, support local fisheries, strengthen maritime surveillance, and stimulate tourism and economic development within each province.

Overall, this targeted donation strategy aligns with Vanuatu’s specific needs and has the potential to generate positive impacts at the provincial level, advancing resilience and prosperity across the archipelago.

The Prime Minister’s PRO also pointed out that with these six boats coming in, there will be an increased demand for infrastructure such as wharves to accommodate the boats in each province.


PORT VILA, VANUATU (14 March 2024): The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat and the Australian Government will sponsor two high-achieving students of the National University of Vanuatu (NUV) for the 2024 Academic year following the launch of the inaugural Father Walter Lini Scholarship today.

Coinciding with MSG’s 36th anniversary marked every year on March 14, the launch took place at the National Convention Centre in the presence of the MSG Chair and Vanuatu Prime Minister, Hon. Charlot Salwai, Senior MSG Officials, Cabinet Ministers, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, invited guests and friends of the MSG. 

The Walter Lini Scholarship was a decision of the MSG Leaders in 2013, and while a formal announcement of the scholarship program was launched in 2014, concrete implementation could not be undertaken due to financial constraints. Both scholarships are worth a total value of 600,000VT.

Director General, Leonard Louma, said, “implementing this particular Leader’s decision is a milestone achievement and Australia’s contribution will go a long way in ensuring that students will realise their dreams, hence contributing to a region of Economic Prosperity and Social Equality and Inclusivity – two of our core objectives endorsed by Leaders in the MSG 2038 Prosperity for All Plan”.

“I am most grateful to the Government of Australia through the Australian High Commission for its continued support to the MSG. Australia’s support is testament of the growing partnership and commitment as our relationship soars to new heights,” DG Louma stated.

The Australian High Commission, Vanuatu was represented by Political Counsellor, Laura Frech Cardenas on behalf of the Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Her Excellency Heidi Bootle. 

Ms Frech Cardenas said while 2024 marks a new era in the strong partnership between the MSG and Australia, the scholarship builds on Australia’s strong commitments to investing in skills development and leadership across Melanesia. 

“Australia’s relationship with the MSG is built on our enduring cultural ties and shared commitment to delivering on Melanesian priorities for social and economic development. 

“I am pleased to present this Scholarship alongside the Chairman of the MSG and Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Hon. Charlot Salwai, in honour of Father Walter Lini, Vanuatu’s first Prime Minister, and a founding member of the MSG,” said Ms Frech Cardenas. 

Vice-Chancellor & President of the NUV, Jean-Pierre NIRUA said, “I wish to express my appreciation to H.E, High Commissioner Heidi Bootle for agreeing with DG Louma to sponsor two high-achieving students from the NUV under Walter Lini Scholarship program.

He confirmed that the students – Carole Raupepe and Kariso Korisa met the selection criteria set by the NUV, two of which are being a final year student and achieving academic excellence.

#MSG 🇫🇯🇳🇨🇵🇬🇸🇧🇻🇺

In Dialogue with Indonesia, Experts of the Human Rights Committee Commend Measures Promoting Women’s Political Participation, Raise Questions on Air and Water Pollution, and on Excessive Use of Force against Indigenous Papuans

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In Dialogue with Indonesia, Experts of the Human Rights Committee Commend Measures Promoting Women’s Political Participation, Raise Questions on Air and Water Pollution, and on Excessive Use of Force against Indigenous Papuans
12 March 2024

High Commissioner’s global update of human rights concerns


The Human Rights Committee today concluded its consideration of the second periodic report of Indonesia on how it implements the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with Committee Experts commending measures promoting women’s political participation, and raising questions on air and water pollution, and on extrajudicial killings of and excessive use of force against indigenous Papuans.

A Committee Expert noted that the State party had continued to adopt measures for women. The recent elections showed progress in efforts to promote the representation of women in political life. What temporary special measures had been implemented to strengthen women’s participation in political, economic, social and cultural life?

Another Expert said Indonesia was one of the world’s top 10 polluters. There were high levels of air pollution in Indonesia. What initiatives were being taken to reduce air pollution and its consequences? The Committee was also concerned about mining activities leading to water pollution. Reportedly, more than half of Indonesia’s rivers were polluted. How was the State party addressing this?

Several Experts expressed concern about numerous reports of extrajudicial killings of and excessive use of force against indigenous Papuans. Why had the State party not conducted public investigations into the killings, or released the findings of internal investigations?

Tri Tharyat, Deputy Minister for Multilateral Affairs of Indonesia and head of the delegation, said Indonesia, the world's third-largest democracy, had recently conducted a free and fair general election. There had been a sharp increase in elected women parliamentarians, from 8.8 per cent in 1999 to 37.07 per cent in 2024. The delegation added that there had been an increase in Indonesia’s gender empowerment index over the reporting period. Until 2024, the Government had implemented the gender development plan, promoting women’s increased participation in private companies.

Indonesia prioritised sustainable agriculture and forestry practices, the delegation said. The State party had published a long-term strategy for climate resilience and was implementing policies to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060. The Government was promoting the right to safe drinking water, investing in the development of drinking water facilities and water quality monitoring mechanisms across the State. There were also policies in place to improve air quality in the greater Jakarta area, including planting trees to absorb carbon dioxide and imposing administrative sanctions on polluters.

The delegation said the Government worked to hold all officials accountable for human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings. The Government’s accountability mechanism had recently investigated an incident involving deaths in Papua in 2022. All six soldiers involved in this incident had been convicted of premeditated murder and charged in civilian courts. All ministries were obliged to convey information publicly, except for dossiers on cases of gross human rights violations.

In concluding remarks, Dhahana Putra, Deputy Minister for Human Rights, Ministry of Law and Human Rights of Indonesia, said engagement with the Committee was pivotal for identifying areas of improvement and means of addressing challenges. The State party would consider the Committee’s recommendations in formulating its next national action plan on human rights. Indonesia was committed to enhancing the protection of human rights domestically.

Tania María Abdo Rocholl, Committee Chairperson, in concluding remarks, expressed appreciation for the professionalism and dedication of the Indonesian delegation. Concerns had been raised regarding the independence of the judiciary; abortion rights; the death penalty; the rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees; prohibition of torture; freedom of religious belief; the right to peaceful assembly; and the rights of children and indigenous peoples, among others. The Committee was determined to ensure the highest possible level of implementation of the Covenant in Indonesia

The delegation of Indonesia was made up of representatives of the Office of the Vice President; Executive Office of the President; National Police of Indonesia; Ministry of Communication and Informatics; Ministry of Law and Human Rights; Cabinet Secretariat; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Human Rights Committee’s one hundred and fortieth session is being held from 4 to 28 March 2024. All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage. Meeting summary releases can be found here. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed via the UN Web TV webpage.

The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. this afternoon to begin its consideration of the eighth periodic report of the United Kingdom (CCPR/C/GBR/8).

Read full Story here

Prime Minister James Marape vs East Sepik Province Governor Alan Bird

Prime Minister, James Marape has called on East Sepik Provincial MP, Allan Bird to provide evidence that his life has been threatened as claimed.

Bird states that his phones have been tapped, that State institutions have been instructed to find anything illegal on him, and that all State apparatus have been put on full alert to hunt him down.

He made these remarks today in Port Moresby after Bird made serious allegations against the
Government over the weekend.

"Allan Bird claims that he has been advised by a Deputy Police Commissioner that his life is under
threat and Police are monitoring the situation," Prime Minister Marape said in a media statement.

"If he is telling the truth, who is the Deputy Police Commissioner concerned, and which Police are
monitoring the situation?

"Allan Bird also claims that he has been informed by senior Government Ministers that his phones
have been illegally tapped.

"If he is telling the truth, who are these ‘senior Government Ministers’, and where is the proof that his phones have been tapped?

"Allan Bird also claims that he has been told by reliable sources that various State Institutions have been instructed to try to find anything illegal on him and charge him and arrest him.

"If he is telling the truth, who are these State institutions that have been instructed to find anything illegal on him and charge him and arrest him?

Allan Bird also claims that all the apparatus of State has been put on full alert to hunt down the
most dangerous criminal in PNG: Allan Bird.

"If he is telling the truth, who are the apparatus of State who have been put on full alert to hunt
down Bird – who describes himself as the ‘most dangerous criminal in PNG?"

“This is the first time I have witnessed an Opposition nominee for the prime minister’s post making serious allegations of his life being threatened.

“My government, in 2020, went through more stronger challenges but those in Opposition never
made serious allegations of having their lives threatened like Bird is doing now.

“You do not get public sympathy and support from the public by uttering lies and slander.

“As head of this Government, we do not take lightly leaders like Bird, who make false accusations to get public sympathy and support.”
Prime Minister Marape said Bird, by the day, continues to make unfounded allegations against
the Government.

“This is not a game, but an attack on integrity of the functionality of the Executive arm of
Government,” he said.

“We are not a dictatorship but a nation of rules and order. 

This Pangu Pati-led Government has
set up the Independent Commission Against Corruption, and has passed the Whistle Blowers
Act, so Bird has all these avenues to formally lodge his complaints.”

James Marape of PNG, Please look at Australia

Please look at Australia. The very large landmass with a total population of 25.26 million. Has only 20 ministers and will never exceed 30 and above as per their ministry act. 
When PNG is facing an economic crisis, and what this means for the country? Prime Minister is very crazy. By creating all this ministry. 

Real GDP in Australia is estimated to be $1.553 Trillion US dollars at the end of 2022. The economy of Australia has grown at an average annual growth rate of 2.0% in the last four years and is ranked the 9th largest economy in Asia-Pacific, ahead of Thailand.

Papua New Guinea gdp growth rate for 2021 was 0.10%, a 3.27% increase from 2020. Papua New Guinea gdp growth rate for 2020 was -3.17%, a 7.65% decline from 2019. Papua New Guinea gdp growth rate for 2019 was 4.48%, a 4.76% increase from 2018. 

We are going backwards. Can the government confirm if all the new jobs created for the boys under the new ministries are part of the prime ministers declarations that he will create a million new jobs in just a few years?

What is the return on investment for our foreign policy?

What is the return on investment for our foreign policy? What is the benefit of us dealing with western governments when they have no serious development footprint in PNG in comparison to China? 

I thought these guys would energise and light up every corner of PNG "to counter China" after the 2018 APEC meeting. 

Ol silip stap na China man buildim Edevu Hydro Power Station.

Now they want to give us a rugby league team "to counter China." Are they serious?

Bai yumi cross na argue but literally China is FEEDING AND CLOTHING PNGans.

You can argue all day long until kingdom comes but in the midst of global inflation, China is giving local PNGans a cheaper option in everything.

Many will argue about allegations of counterfeit etc.. Etc.. But China men is on the ground.

What best alternative does your governemnt or the sceptics have in place to replace Chinese businesses!!???

Bai yu koros but still go Shopping lo Eliseo, Tango, na DeshBesh..