Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo should use his first official visit to Papua and West Papua on Thursday to endorse specific measures to address serious human rights problems on the country's easternmost island, according to a New York-based rights watchdog.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) deputy Asia director Phelim Kine said Jokowi deserved credit for recognizing that Papua's problems demanded the urgent attention of his new government.
"However, President Widodo should recognize that this government can't just spend its way out of Papua's problems; it needs to address an abusive status quo rooted in persistent human rights violations in Papua," Kine said in a press release made available to The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
Jokowi is scheduled to visit Papua and West Papua three days after his inauguration. He has promised to devote "special attention" to Papua and to improve health-care and education in the two provinces as a means of easing "political tensions" in the resource-rich areas.
HRW said Papua presented particular governance challenges for the Jokowi administration, as the ongoing low-level conflict with the small and poorly organized Free Papua Movement (OPM) had placed security responsibilities on the government.