Jakarta. The United Nations high commissioner for human rights said on Wednesday (07/02) that he will send a mission to Indonesia's easternmost province of Papua, following reports of abuses against its indigenous population.
"I am also concerned about reports of excessive use of force by security forces, harassment, arbitrary arrests and detentions in Papua," Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein told reporters in Jakarta during his three-day visit to Indonesia.
He added that the Indonesian government has extended an invitation to the UN to visit Papua — the country's poorest region.
"I think it's important for us to go and see ourselves what is happening there … and I hope we can do this as soon as possible," Al-Hussein said.
Accounts of rights violations in Papua have prompted concerns from activists and the larger international community. The government was earlier accused of restricting access for foreign correspondents to the region.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration has prioritized development in Papua through massive infrastructure projects aimed at boosting the province's economic growth.
More recently, dozens of Papuans – mostly children – died from malnutrition-related diseases in the province's Asmat district. The health crisis has led to allegations that the government's focus on development in the region does not serve the welfare of its population.
"They [the UN] can visit Papua. I told them that if they find faults, we will take action [to address them]," Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said after his meeting with Al-Hussein on Tuesday.