2021-03 West Papua – Reprisals & Intimidation towards GHR Member Mr. W. FATUBUN

 “Intimidation and reprisals affect not only the individuals and groups directly impacted, but are alarming also for the message they send to other actors and individuals, whether from government or civil society, who wish to engage with the United Nations and express their views freely.”

— Secretary-General António Guterres, (A/HRC/39/41, para.79)

Over the past months, GHR has reported numerous and severe reprisals and intimidation against individuals and groups engaging with our organisation and the United Nations Human Rights bodies and mechanisms.

We are particularly alarmed by the situation of our fellow West-Papuan member Mr. Wensislaus FATUBUN.

Mr. Fatubun has been a fellow and alumni of our training and implementation programs for years. We started working with him when he joined our training course ‘Geneva Course on Human Rights and Diplomacy‘ in 2013.

M. Adrien-Claude ZOLLER – GHR President & Mr. Wenseslaus FATUBUN at UNOG, Palais des Nations, Geneva – 2019

Since then we have worked together and engaged with various organs and bodies of the United Nations human rights system related to the implementation of human rights in West Papua along with the protection of indigenous West-Papuans:

  • Human Rights Council and its subsidiary bodies and mechanisms, including the Universal Periodic Review, Special Procedures, and Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP)
  • Treaty bodies (mainly the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD),  Committee Against Torture (CAT), Human Rights Committee (CCPR) and Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)) 
  • Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, its field presences and human rights advisers
  • United Nations Country Teams and funds, agencies and programmes in the field
  • Other parts of the Secretariat or specialized agencies working in the field of human rights (e.g. development, environment)

We have reliable and solid information that Mr. FATUBUN is facing intimidation and pressures. They take on different forms, such as:

– Travel bans
– Threats and harassment, including by officials
– Smear campaigns
– Surveillance
– Physical attacks
– Arbitrary arrest and detention

GHR as does the United Nations – and particularly its human rights bodies and mechanisms – relies on the cooperation of the people it serves. Mr. FATUBUN provides valuable on-the-ground insights and information, alert us to evolving situations, and push for relevant action to be taken. His freedom to engage with us as well with the UN is a basic exercise of fundamental freedoms and human rights, and must be respected and protected.

We urge the Indonesian authorities to ensure the protection and full respect of the fundamental freedoms and liberties of Mr. W. FATUBUN. GHR is following closely the situation and reports to the High Commissioner Office for Human Rights and its dedicated section on ‘Intimidation & Reprisals’.

When those engaging with us as a training and implementation organisation and with the UN face intimidation, threats, imprisonment and worse for doing so, we all lose, and the credibility of the whole organisation and UN is damaged.