HC Deb 10 July 1996 vol 281 cc398-9
16. Mrs. Bridget Prentice

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met representatives of the Indonesian Government to discuss human rights in that country; and if he will make a statement. [35176]

Mr. Rifkind

Ministers most recently discussed human rights with the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Mr. Alatas, during his visit to the UK in January.

Mrs. Prentice

Is the Foreign Secretary concerned about reports of injuries to more than 100 protesters at demonstrations on 20 June this year? If so, does he not think that it is time for him to urge the Indonesian Government to ensure that their security forces stop using excessive force and that the rights of protesters are protected, given that this is not the first time we have heard of such uses of excessive force by the Indonesian security forces?

Mr. Rifkind

We welcome any improvement in respect for human rights and we were especially pleased to hear about the establishment in Indonesia of a national human rights commission. We hope that that will make a useful contribution towards ensuring proper respect for human rights, which the hon. Lady wants.

Mr. Nicholls

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the fact that the Indonesians have set up that human rights commission shows that they believe and understand that their human rights record must improve? Does he further agree that, when we make judgments about countries on the far side of the world, sometimes we should bear in mind the judgments that they might make about us from afar, and the fact that it does not encourage the growth of human rights in Indonesia to denigrate what has been achieved so far?

Mr. Rifkind

I agree with my hon. Friend. No country is immune from observation and comment by other countries around the world. Just as we expect to comment on human rights matters elsewhere, so our own practices will occasionally come under scrutiny, but those practices are overwhelmingly matters of which we can be proud.