Indonesia: New Zealand hostage in West Papua must be urgently released, one year on 

One year after New Zealand pilot Phillip Mehrtens was held hostage by an armed faction of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) in West Papua, the Executive Director of Amnesty International Indonesia, Usman Hamid, said: 

“We urgently appeal to those holding Phillip Mehrtens hostage to release him immediately, unconditionally and without harm.” 

“Holding him hostage violates the fundamental principles of human rights and severely undermines his physical and mental health.” 

“The West Papua National Liberation Army must always prioritize the safety of civilians who are not involved in the conflict. Phillip Mehrtens must not be deprived of liberty, freedom of movement, security or the right to be free from torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” 


An armed faction of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), led by Egianus Kogoya, has been holding Phillip Mehrtens captive since 7 February 2023. The Susi Air pilot was taken hostage after landing a small commercial plane in the remote and mountainous area of Nduga. The group threatened to harm the New Zealand national if talks regarding Papuan independence were not initiated. 

Hostage-taking is a violation of basic humanitarian principles reflected in various international treaties, including common Article 3 to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. This provision provides special protection for civilians who are not involved in armed conflict and prohibits torture, inhumane treatment and humiliation of their dignity. 

Hostage-taking also violates international law and human rights standards, such as the 1979 Convention against the Taking of Hostages and the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which protects the basic rights of individuals, including the right to liberty and security of person and protection from inhumane treatment.