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Call for release of journalists

October 22, 2014

Box 68-419,
Auckland 1145.

22 October 2014

Media Release on behalf of West Papua Action Auckland, EPMU Print and Media Council and the NZ Media Freedom Network

Call for media freedom and Release of French journalists in West Papua.

West Papua Action Auckland, the EPMU Print and Media Council and the NZ Media Freedom Network call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to speak out in support of the two French TV journalists whose trial has just begun in Jayapura West Papua. We ask that the Minister also call for a guarantee that local people the journalists met with will be protected. This is crucial moment to remind newly inaugurated Indonesian President Joko Widodo of the promises he made during his election campaign to allow greater media freedom in the troubled territory.

The Minister must seize the moment to advise Mr Widodo of Parliament’s July resolution which called on the new President to uphold the right of ‘local and international journalists’ to report on the political situation in West Papua without risking imprisonment or harassment. Widodo plans to visit West Papua later this week.

“Now we are on the UN Security Council we must have our voice heard about this pivotal case –concerning the human rights not only of two dedicated journalists but also the rights of the people of West Papua,” said Tolich and Leadbeater speaking for their networks.

Yesterday, Thomas Dandois and Valentine Dandois appeared in court after nearly three months in detention. They were arrested while recording footage for a documentary and attempting to shine a light on the largely hidden freedom struggle in West Papua. They have been charged with visa violations but in the past the authorities have simply expelled journalists caught doing this.

Apart from a tiny number of closely monitored visits, international journalists have been barred from entry to West Papua. These restrictions violate the spirit if not the letter of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the universal right to inform as guaranteed in Article 19 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For further information Maire Leadbeater (WPPA) 09-815-9000 or 0274-436-957 or Paul Tolich 0275-935595 (EPMU Print and Media Council and the NZ Media Freedom Network)

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