12 Jun 2014

Indonesia drops NZ training programme

9:13 pm on 12 June 2014

Human rights groups say Indonesia's decision to axe a New Zealand-funded police training programme in Indonesia's restless eastern provinces shows it's time for the Government to take a more active role.

Indonesian media report suspicions about New Zealand's motives were behind the move.

A high-ranking police officer is quoted as saying the Indonesian government pulled the plug on the $6.3 million programme after intelligence agents raised concerns about hidden motives on New Zealand's part.

Human Rights Watch, which has documented human rights abuses in Papua where an independence movement it says is being brutally suppressed, says it appears Indonesia feared outside scrutiny of its activities.

Marie Leadbetter, a spokesperson for West Papua Action Auckland, says she suspects the Indonesians feared the programme would expose its oppressive police force to outside scrutiny.

She says activists had feared the opposite - that the programme would act like a screen for the police's activities.

Ms Leadbetter says the onus is now on New Zealand to offer assistance with peaceful mediation over independence for West Papua.

The Indonesian embassy in Wellington says the government's decision to drop the training programme was to avoid a clash with a similar one run by the International Organisation for Migration in Papua and Maluku.