18 Mar 2003

Papuans say they may take Freeport to court over alleged human rights abuses

10:30 am on 18 March 2003

The Free Papua Movement or OPM is planning legal action against the US-owned Freeport mine over its alleged involvement in Indonesia's human rights abuses against Papuans.

OPM spokesperson, Dr John Ondawame says Freeport's disclosure that it paid troops more than five and half million US dollars protection money has opened the doors for a probe into what role it played in the human rights abuses.

Dr Ondawame says OPM and traditional landowners are looking at whether they can reopen two cases previously brought against Freeport and thrown out by a US court.

He says another option is taking Freeport to the International Criminal Court.

"It becomes clear that Freeport and the military have a strong link involving crimes against humanity and this opened up new opportunity for Papuans and the OPM and also particularly the landowners to bring Freeport to court."

Dr John Ondawame from the OPM.

Freeport's relationship with the TNI came under close scrutiny after two US citizens and an Indonesian were killed in an ambush last August.

The ambush, initially blamed on OPM members is being investigated by the FBI after there were indications of involvement by the Indonesian military.