The non-existent AFP Guidelines for safeguarding human rights while working with the Indonesian Police


On the 12th of October 2020, Australian Federal Police (AFP) Assistant Commissioner David McLean wrote to us on behalf of the AFP, denying our request to meet with West Papuan human rights defenders.

In this letter, McLean stated that “the AFP takes all reasonable and appropriate steps to ensure that cooperation with foreign law enforcement agencies is in accordance with relevant guidelines…. [including] the AFP National Guideline on offshore situations involving potential torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishments.”

We have since accessed a copy of this Guideline. It is clear from reading it that the guideline only addresses the AFP's role in ensuring they do not act in ways that might place Australian citizens at risk of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishments at the hands of foreign law enforcement agencies while abroad. The Guideline does not cover the conduct of the AFP when working with Indonesian National Police (POLRI) who may have been involved in torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishmentsNor does it provide direction for how the AFP responds when POLRI members trained by the AFP engage in torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishments. 

The AFP have hidden behind this Guideline, insisting that it proves they are abiding by human rights when they work with POLRI. This is not the case. The AFP needs to ensure that the training they provide at JCLEC is not creating more effective human rights abusers. The AFP also need to put safeguards in place to ensure that POLRI participants accused of human rights violations are excluded from AFP programs. At the moment there is no vetting or monitoring process.

Numerous human rights organisations inside and outside West Papua, as well as West Papuan human rights defenders, lawyers and community members have consistently reported grave human rights violations perpetrated by POLRI. These violations are systemic and are perpetrated with impunity. The AFP is aware of these human rights violations, yet, continues to work with POLRI with no guidelines in place to ensure human rights are abided by, and without any form of vetting in place to exclude POLRI personnel who are alleged perpetrators from participating in all AFP led or funded activities

1. We request the AFP provide all guidelines and other documents that address the human rights standards expected of foreign law enforcement agencies working with the AFP. 

2. We additionally request any other binding agreements or code of conducts that outline the reasonable and appropriate steps expected of foreign law enforcement agencies working with the AFP. 

3. We request that the AFP makes a clear statement regarding their position on working with foreign law enforcement members accused of human rights violations. 

4. Considering there is no vetting process, we request any documentation, formal and informal, including all monitoring and evaluation documents, that outlines processes in place that ensure the AFP are not increasing the capacity and skills of POLRI personnel involved in human rights abuses in West Papua. 

Our money is supporting the AFP’s training of POLRI. The AFP must therefore be accountable to the Australian public and live up to its own values of fairness, trust, respect, accountability, integrity, commitment and excellence in service to the community and in working with each other, because at the moment the AFP is failing to keep West Papuans or other Indonesians safe, and by extension potentially endangering the lives of Australians working in West Papua and Indonesia.


page 1 of the AFP guidelinepage 2 of the AFP guideline.

page 3 of the AFP guideline.Page 4 of the AFP guideline.