Friday, February 12, 2016

Senator Ludlum on West Papua

Senator Ludlum on West Papua

 Proof Committee Hansard SENATE
pages 112 -114;fileType=application%2Fpdf


Senator LUDLAM: I have a couple of follow-up questions. These refer to question on notice No. 2794, which remains unansweredI think it is about 40 days overdue. Specifically, it is in regard to the AFP's support, or otherwise, to Detachment 88, which is a counter-terrorism unit within the Indonesian National Police. I have asked your predecessor questions about this in years past, but I do not think we have had this discussion before. So, in the absence of a response to the question that I put on notice can you tell us whether the AFP, financially or otherwisetraining, capacity building, mentoring, equipmentprovides assistance to the Detachment 88 unit specifically, or indirectly through INP?

Mr Colvin: I will ask Deputy Commissioner Phelan to come to the table. In terms of the unanswered question on notice, we have answered all of our questions on notice. I am not sure if perhaps it was a question to the department

Senator LUDLAM: It might be held up a bit further up the line, but the parliament does not have an answer yet.

Mr Colvin: I understand that. I know we have put material on the record before. Yes, we still continue to work with Detachment 88, the counter-terrorism arm of the Indonesian National Police, in a range of matters.

CHAIR: I am told by the secretariat that you are referring to a question on notice in the Senate and not a question on notice through the estimates process.

Senator LUDLAM: Yes, that is correct.

Mr Wood: Which is why we do not have it with us.

Senator LUDLAM: In the absence of a response, though, do you want to just sketch very brieflybecause we obviously are expecting a more detailed written answer down the trackin what capacity we assist this unit?

Mr Colvin: We will say what we can, and we will check the status of that question. I will hand over to Deputy Commissioner Phelan.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016 Senate Page 113

Mr Phelan: I think I have answered this question before this committee in the past in this placealmost exactly. I will try to remember the details. Over the years, effectively since the Bali bombings, we have provided consistent training on and off to Detachment 88. The question specifically put to us before was whether we had been involved in tactical training to their tactical alarm. The answer to that is no. But Detachment 88 has an investigative component as well. We work very closely with their investigative component. We work with them in relation to cybercrime exploitation. We work with them with investigative training. They have a hand in forensic investigations, as well, and we work very closely with them on that. We have provided them with training both in Indonesia, primarily at the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation, in Semarang, which is a joint Australian and donor-funded training facility in Indonesia. That is the extent of our training with Detachment 88, and it ebbs and flows. Over some years we have given a large amount of equipment and so on, and in some years it is next to nothing.

Senator LUDLAM: We have asked on notice for a bit of detail about what kind of equipment, so I will not hold us up tonight on that. I think Detachment 88 has in past times played a very important role in counter- terrorism work, so it is obviously in Australia's interests that they are well-trained and supported.

Mr Phelan: They do. They are one of our key partners in Indonesia. There is no doubt about that.

Senator LUDLAM: How does it work when the same unitand this is going to start sounding grimly familiar, I am afraidis then implicated in gross human rights violations in West Papua; same guys, same unit, same training, same equipment, different mission?

Mr Phelan: We certainly do not get involved in their operations in West Papua, and

Senator LUDLAM: We do not get involved in their operations, but we have helped build their capacity and
their training.

Mr Phelan: Not the capacity in terms of the tactical capacity we are talking about. We do talk about their investigative capacity, forensics and social media exploitation, which is relatively new.
Senator LUDLAM: I am presuming we are not then simply washing our hands if these very same individuals, and this very same unit, are then implicated in some kind of terrifying conduct in West Papua.

Mr Phelan: A very similar answer to what the commissioner gave: we do not wash our hands of anything. We are very cognisant of the equipment we deliver. We provide the training for it and it has a very specific nexus back to Australia for a specific purpose.

Senator LUDLAM: I am sure you can tell why I am raising these questions. It must be reasonably obvious where am I heading. What kind of due diligence do you do to make sure that the equipment, the training and the capacity building that we are providing to these individuals are not being thrown outside a counter-terrorism rolewhich I do not think there would be a person in this room who would opposeto a role of cracking down on, torturing and disappearing pro-democracy campaigners in West Papua? It is some of the same people.

Mr Colvin: I think some of these questions are best directed towards Foreign Affairs, because they are questions that Foreign Affairs deal with on a regular basis, in terms of allegations of this nature. We are as specific and as careful as we can be, as the deputy commissioner has said, about the types of training that we provide and the equipment that we provide, to minimise the ability for it to be diverted and used in any other way. We train to our standards. We constantly work with our partners to have a standard that is very similar to what we have here in this country. We cannot be held accountable for what they are alleged to have done. It is something that we are acutely aware of and it is something that we have answered in this chamber many times.

Senator LUDLAM: There are reasons that it comes up over and over again.

Mr Colvin: Yes.

Senator LUDLAM: Are you able to engage in any kind of vetting process for members of the Indonesian police, or specifically Det 88, given that they are in receipt of Australian public funding, or is that out of scope?

Mr Colvin: To the extent that we can, yes, we are tailoring our efforts and our capacity building to those members and those areas we feel are operating in Australia's interest.

Senator LUDLAM: Is there anybody, for example, that we have simply refused to train, on the basis of their record?

Mr Colvin: I might take that on notice, because I want to give the committee a proper answer to these questions. They are very serious allegations and they are proper questions for us. I need to be very careful about the way we answer them. I want to try and give the committee the confidence that the AFP is not acting rashly in the way that we cooperate with these units.

Page 114 Senate Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Senator LUDLAM: Rashly?

Mr Colvin: Yes. I am trying to give you confidence that we are not acting rashly.

Senator LUDLAM: The last question is equally applicable to those that I put to you not that long ago about the Sri Lankan CID. There are these due diligence processes that you engage in when you are first establishing a mission in another part of the world. I am interested to know how that process is iterated over time and, if there are particular allegations of human rights abuses, whether anything happens or whether, unless AFP individuals directly witness this kind of conduct, it just goes through to the keeper?

Mr Colvin: It does not just go through to the keeper. If we witness that kind of conduct, there is a very strict guideline, protocol, that we must work through with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about that activity. At the same time, if our presence in a countryin my mind or in my senior officers' mindsbecame untenable because of allegations of misconduct or because of a lack of trust in officers that we were working with, then we would have to reconsider, but we are not in that situation.

Senator LUDLAM: How bad does it have to get in West Papua before we would reconsider? What are your threshold questions?

Mr Colvin: We are not operating in West Papua

Senator LUDLAM: But the people that we are training are operating there, Commissioner, with respect.

Mr Colvin: I do not know that that is the case. Det 88 is a very large organisation, and I have not seen any evidence to suggest that somebody that we have provided training to has been directly implicated in allegations. As I said before, you need to ask some of these questions to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Senator LUDLAM: I do intend to do so, if there is any of those individuals in the room. I do intend to do so; they are likely though to refer me right back to you because you have the people on the ground, actually providing the training.

Mr Colvin: I am in no position to make a comment about allegations of human rights abuses in West Papua.

Senator LUDLAM: It is the people that we train, and the capacity that we are building, and the equipment we are providing, that I am trying to understand how we can possibly do ongoing due diligence and track those people or that gear.

Mr Colvin: Senator, we work and train with a fairly small, select group of individuals. Can I categorically say that I always know where those individuals are, deployed across the archipelago of Indonesia, and what duties they are involved in? No, I cannot, but our officers are very conscious of making sure we work with people who serve in the interests of Australia.

Senator LUDLAM: You have taken a fair number of matters on notice so I might leave it there. 

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