Australia, Indonesia strengthen cyber-security ties but West Papua ignored

Cyber-security main topic in the Australian, Indonesian consultation ... but not "the elephant in the room" - West Papua. Image: AWPA

Australia and Indonesia have agreed to focus on cyber-security in their fight against terrorism and transnational crimes after a meeting in Jakarta but West Papua insecurity as an issue was apparently ignored.

The agreement was reached at the third ministerial council meeting on security and law on Thursday despite the ongoing suspension of military cooperation between the two countries.

Liza Yosephine of The Jakarta Post reports that the meeting highlighted an array of issues related to counterterrorism, such as deradicalisation, cyber intrusion, as well as tracing and stopping those funding terrorism online.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto, who led the Indonesian delegation, noted that both countries had openly exchanged views on the development of regional security dynamics and the importance of maintaining stability in the region.

“The meeting today [Thursday] was held in an open, constructive and friendly atmosphere, so we expect that it will result in tighter and stronger cooperation in law and security,” Wiranto told a press conference at the conclusion of the meeting.

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis, who led his country’s delegation, said it was the first time cyber security had been included as a topic of the meeting.

Brandis said both countries were working closely together in response to increasing cyber security threats .

He added that cyber security had been the subject of long discussion during the meeting and was the focus of several agreements reached between the two countries.

Concrete measures
Although the topic has been discussed since the inaugural ministerial council meeting in Jakarta in December 2015, concrete measures have only been initiated this year, signifying the growing importance of the matter to both nations.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s East Asia and Pacific director, Edi Yusup, said Indonesia was confirmed to attend a workshop on cyber security in Australia in the coming months.

“The workshop in Australia will be an opportunity to learn how the country develops cyber-security policies and strategies,” he told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the meeting, adding that the place and date of the meeting was yet to be determined.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) and its Indonesian counterpart centre (PPATK) announced on Wednesday that they would launch a new project later this year to enhance Indonesia’s ability to face the increasing number of online threats, especially those related to detecting and cutting flows of funds related to terrorism and crime.

The cooperation is part of the agencies’ efforts to cut the financial lifelines of terrorism in an agreement signed ahead of the meeting.

Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan emphasized the importance of continued cooperation between the two agencies, especially on intelligence sharing to monitor financial flows, prevent terrorism and halting the funding of organized crime.

“We will increasingly share the intelligence that we need to tackle illegal money flows,” Keenan said.

Brandis stressed that focusing on the flow of money was one of the most effective ways to combat growing terrorism.

‘Elephant in the room’
Before the meeting, Joe Collins of the Australia West Papua Association declared in a statement that once again “West Papua will be the elephant in the room”.

“As usual we can expect the issues of  counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and maritime security to be on the agenda but no doubt West Papua will be the elephant in the room again,” he said.

“The human rights situation in West Papua should be raised not only at this meeting but raised by Australian officials at all bilateral talks between Australian and Indonesian officials.”

Collins was commenting on a statement from the Australian side in the negotiations saying “Australia and Indonesia share a steadfast commitment to a stable and prosperous Indo‑Pacific region”.

Collins said: “West Papua is the one issue of great concern in our region and Australia should be doing all it can to encourage Jakarta to sit down and dialogue with West Papuan representatives to discuss all the issues of concern they have.

“It is now 54 years since Indonesia took over the administration of West Papua and the courageous West Papuan people  are still marching in the streets risking arrest and torture and calling for their right to self-determination.

“The West Papuan people and their representatives have achieved great victories in the past few years and as support continues to grow for West Papua not only in our region but world wide, Australia and Indonesian must realize that West Papua is truly back on the agenda and won’t be going away,” Collins said.

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