NZ police training project in West Papua shelved
Relief expressed and questions raised over the announcement that New Zealand's planned community policing training programme in Indonesia's Papua region has been shelved.
A New Zealand MP says she's glad that the government's planned community policing training programme in Indonesia's Papua region has been shelved.
The Eastern Indonesia Community Policing Programme had been slated for early 2014.
But New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says Indonesia has advised that it is not able to support the project at this time.
The Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty opposed the project from the time it was announced three years ago, as well as earlier incarnations of the programme.
She told Johnny Blades it's unhelpful to West Papuans for New Zealand to partner with Indonesia's police apparatus when it is widely linked to rights abuses in the region.
CATHERINE DELAHUNTY: Well I think that they are clearly still operating a very violent police force and they don't want scrutiny but also I've just discovered today too that there was a presidential decree about the handling of domestic security issues which basically said the resolution of conflict among citizens cannot be handled by the police. Police duty is to stop clashes and not to handle the problems. Now I don't know how to interpret that but clearly the issue of scrutiny and the issue of both media and human rights freedom in West Papua is not improving and it is possible that they don't want any scrutiny at all and that's quite concerning for the people of West Papua. Even though we're glad that we're not wasting New Zealand money we would rather see that New Zealand money spent on making sure that there is proper scrutiny and there is proper access for media, it is an interesting situation.
JOHNNY BLADES: What about what the government's done, and the three years it's taken to arrange this latest stage of that cooperation.
CD: Well my understanding is that a lot of work's gone in and no doubt quite a bit of money's been spent and I will be seeking answers about how much and exactly what's gone on because this was a programme that was well developed and when we challenged them about it the New Zealand government said that it was an important aid opportunity and that it was going to make a huge difference and that they had audited it and they had definite evidence that it was working and all of a sudden it's been axed. So what's happened to all that work and what's happened to all that state resource in this programme and what will New Zealand offer West Papua? Why aren't we taking a more responsible approach than proposing this, spending money on it, and then the Indonesians don't even want it so it just sounds like it's been mismanaged from start to finish.
JB: Murray McCully said a while back that this community policing is one of the best things that New Zealand can do to help West Papuans.
CD: Well clearly that's not true, the New Zealand journalist who went into West Papua, Paul Bensemann, discovered people were calling the New Zealand policing programme, 'aid that kills' so in that sense it wasn't a great thing. If it's the best we can offer then we should be very ashamed. The best we can offer is to offer to mediate for peace between West Papuan leaders and the Indonesian government in a situation that's contaminated by police violence. We have not been offering our best, now the programme's been dropped and an awful lot of money's been wasted and time which could of been better used to do something constructive about peace making in West Papua.
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