Letter to UN Security Council on Justice and Accountability for Serious Crimes Committed in Timor-Leste

20 October 2009


“No peace without justice! Dissolve CTF! Bring Human Rights Violators to Court!”; protest action in East Timor. Photo: José Caetano Guterres

The following letter to the UN Security Council was signed by 65 individuals, representing nearly 50 organizations worldwide. President Security Council The United Nations 1 United Nations Plaza New York, New York 10017 Your Excellency, We have long been concerned with the justice and accountability for human rights and war crimes committed in Timor-Leste. As you meet this week to discuss the situation in Timor-Leste, we remind you that United Nations — and more specifically Security Council — pledges and obligations concerning human rights and accountability for serious human rights crimes remain unfulfilled. Once again we urge the Security Council to implement the recommendations of the 2005 Commission of Experts (CoE) report and Chega! (Enough!), the final report of the Timor-Leste’s Reception, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CAVR). Both reports urge establishing an ad hoc international tribunal should other efforts at justice fail. If anything, recent events confirm that the governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia are unwilling or able to pursue justice. It is time for the Council to act. Recent events have highlighted the necessity for international involvement in prosecuting serious crimes committed in Timor-Leste between 1975 and 1999, including the August arrest and extra-judicial release (under Indonesian pressure) of the former militia leader Martenus Bere. He had been arrested under an outstanding indictment for serious crimes committed in 1999 after crossing the border into Timor-Leste. His release not only undermined the rule of law in Timor-Leste, it clearly demonstrated that the government of Indonesia continues to undermine efforts by the judiciary in Timor-Leste to prosecute Indonesian citizens accused of serious crimes committed in 1999 and before. There was an outcry from broad segments of Timor-Leste society against Bere’s release, as shown by letters recently delivered to you from East Timorese. Both the spokesperson for the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights properly took issue with the release. The Secretary-General in his recent report to the Security Council on UNMIT, expressed his “hope that the Governments of both Timor-Leste and Indonesia will ensure that Martenus Bere is brought to justice taking into account the report of the Commission of Experts appointed in 2005 (see S/2005/458).” The recent report of UNMIT and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights “Rejecting Impunity: Accountability for Human Rights Violations Past and Present” makes clear that “Victims of past violations have continued to call for the perpetrators of crimes against them or their family members to face justice.” The report states “grave human rights violations were committed by members of the Indonesian security forces” during the Indonesian invasion and occupation. These were contrary to international law, the UN Charter and the Security Council’s own resolutions. Some of Timor-Leste’s leaders have expressed the certainty that the United Nations and the Security Council will never act in a substantive way to hold accountable those responsible for the crimes committed during the illegal occupation of Timor-Leste. While we are not naïve about the obstacles, we hold you to a higher standard. We believe that the United Nations and the Council must live up to its promises to deny impunity to worst perpetrators, if only to reinforce your own credibility. We urge you to act now to implement the UN’s repeated promises by allocating the necessary political, financial and legal resources to end impunity for these crimes against humanity. We strongly believe that real accountability will reinforce democracy and the rule of law in both Indonesia and Timor-Leste, as well as support genuine reconciliation between the two peoples. The Security Council ended the serious crimes process in May 2005, although UNMIT has resumed investigating murders committed in 1999, but without a mandate or mechanism for issuing indictments or bringing perpetrators to trial. In addition to this far too-restrictive mandate, the Serious Crimes Investigative Team’s (SCIT) investigative process is appallingly slow. As reported to you by the Secretary-General, “As at 31 August, the team had completed investigations into 89 of 396 outstanding cases; an additional 21 cases are currently under investigation.” More than 300 suspects were indicted by the UN-backed Serious Crimes Unit, nearly all in Indonesia. We urge the Council to reject the recent statement of Timor-Leste’s president to close the SCIT. Instead its resources should be increased, and its scope broadened. A full reconstitution of the serious crimes processes is required, in line with recommendations the CAVR’s Chega! This requires at a minimum: A Serious Crimes Unit working within the Office of the Prosecutor-General, a commitment of sufficient resources, and a mandate to investigate and prosecute major crimes committed during the Indonesian occupation. Timor-Leste’s judicial system remains weak, with no ability to reach perpetrators outside the country. Timor-Leste’s leaders made clear, in the debate about the Bere case, that they fear retaliation from their large neighbor. Justice must be a direct UN responsibility to ensure that there is no impunity for serious crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. A full decade has passed since Indonesia’s violent exit from Timor-Leste. Indonesia has repeatedly demonstrated that it will act to prevent credible prosecution of Indonesian citizens for crimes connected with Indonesia’s occupation of Timor-Leste. We urge Interpol to issue arrest warrants for all those indicted by the Serious Crimes Unit who remain at large, at a minimum to discourage these suspects from traveling internationally. Other sanctions should be considered as well. The Secretary-General in his most recent report on UNMIT to the Council writes, “On 2 September, participants in a three-day ‘National Victims’ Congress’ organized by non-governmental organizations in Dili, with support from OHCHR, called for an international tribunal to prosecute the perpetrators of human rights abuses committed during the 1974-1999 period.” As an alternative to a revived and strengthened serious crimes process, the Security Council should implement this recommendation, echoed by the CoE report and the CAVR by creating an ad hoc international criminal tribunal for Timor-Leste. More than ten years ago, the Council, in Resolutions 1264 and 1272 expressed its commitment to justice for the people of Timor-Leste. Failure to do so reinforces the impression that the UN supports a double standard of justice, undermining the rule of law and respect for human rights in Timor-Leste, Indonesia and internationally. Yours sincerely, John M. Miller National Coordinator, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) UN Representative, International Federation for East Timor (IFET) Charles Scheiner, Secretariat International Federation for East Timor Susi Snyder, Secretary General Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Pedro Pinto Leite, Secretary International Platform of Jurists for East Timor, The Netherlands Sr. Sheila Kinsey, OSF-FCJM, General Councilor Franciscan Sisters Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Rome, Italy La’o Hamutuk: Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis Rosa Maria de Sousa, Executive Director Fokupers (Forum Komunikasi Untuk Perempuan Timor Lorosa’e), Timor-Leste José Caetano Guterres, Former CAVR Senior staff and currently Coordinator of Coordinating Committee Member East Timor Crisis Reflection Network (ETCRN). Filomena Barros dos Reis, Activist for Human Rights, Justice and Peace, Timor-Leste Teresa Alita Verdial , Advocacy Program Manager/ Acting CEO Alola Foundation, Timor-Leste Veronica Correia, Maternal and Child Health Program Manager Alola Foundation Apolonia da Costa, Womens Resources Centre Coordinator Alola Foundation Jacinta da Cruz, Womens Resources Centre Program Officer Alola Foundation Maria Fatima, Fereira- Womens Resources Centre Liaison Officer Alola Foundation Elizita Rogerio, Womens Resources Centre Trainer Alola Foundation Elda Barros, District Support Worker Project Officer Alola Foundation Inacia Tamele- Education Program Manager, Alola Foundation Paulina Azziz, Advocacy Program Staff, Alola Foundation Kerry Brogan, former researcher on Indonesia, Timor-Leste and PNG for Amnesty International Jude Conway Asia Pacific Support Collective James Dunn 2001-2002 UNTAET expert on Crimes Against Humanity in East Timor Dr. Clinton Fernandes Australian Coalition For Justice For East Timor Eko Waluyo, Program Coordinator Indonesian Solidarity, Australia Rosemary McKay, Chair Bill Fisher, Committee Australia East Timor Friendship Association South Australia Shirley Shackleton Australia Dr Tim Anderson, Senior Lecturer in Political Economy University of Sydney Edwina Hughes, Coordinator Peace Movement Aotearoa Tim Howard. Spokesperson Whangarei Branch, Indonesian Human Rights Committee – New Zealand Gabriel Jonsson, Chairman The Swedish East Timor Committee Beryl Bernay, Senior Correspondent Worldview Reports Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton Detroit, MI Alan Muller, Executive Director Green Delaware Peter Bohmer Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace faculty in economics and political economy, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA Chuck Warpehoski, Director Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, Ann Arbor, MI Chris Lundry, PhD Hugh Downs School of Communication Arizona State University Jeffrey J. Smith, Barrister The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University Bill Towe , Board Member North Carolina Peace Action Tom Mahedy Monmouth County Pax Christi Dr. Brad Simpson Director, Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project* Jakob Schmidt SUNY Stony Brook Luis de Oliveira Sampaio, Executive Director Judicial System Monitoring Programme Roger S. Clark, Board of Trustees International League for Human Rights Koalisi Anti Utang (Anti-Debt Coalition) Indonesia Garda Sembiring, Coordinator People’s Empowerment Consortium (PEC) , Jakarta Gustaf Dupe, Chairman Association of Prison Ministries, Jakarta Edwina Hughes, Coordinator Peace Movement Aotearoa Maire Leadbeater, Spokesperson Indonesia Human Rights Committee, New Zealand Rev. John Chamberlin, National Coordinator East Timor Religious Outreach Monika Schlicher Watch Indonesia! – Working Group for Human Rights, Democracy and Environmental Protection in Indonesia and East Timor, Berlin Carmel Budiardjo, founder and co-director Paul Barber,Coordinator TAPOL (UK) Cristina Cruz, President of the Board of Directors CIDAC – Centro de Informação e Documentação Amílcar Cabral Suzana Braz IPJET, Portugal Associação Amizade Portugal Sahara Ocidental Dini Widiastuti. Programme Manager – East Timor and Indonesia CAFOD Jean Inglis Free East Timor Coalition, Japan Sharon Silber and Eileen B. Weiss, Co-Founders Jews Against Genocide Kirsten Moller, Executive Director Global Exchange Kathy Kelly, Co-Coordinator Voices for Creative Nonviolence J.J. Sahetapy Stg. Timor Lorosae Solidarity, The Netherlands Koen J. de Jager Foundation Pro Papua, The Netherlands Bruno Kahn Directeur de recherche au CNRS, Paris, France Ed McWilliams West Papua Advocacy Team Joseph K. Grieboski, Founder and President Institute on Religion and Public Policy Greg Stanton, President Genocide Watch Marie Lucey, OSF, Associate Director for Social Mission Leadership Council of Women Religious Marie Dennis, Director Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns Glen Gersmehl, National Coordinator Lutheran Peace Fellowship Director, Peace & Justice Resource Center, Seattle Carol Jahnkow, Executive Director Peace Resource Center of San Diego Pierre Labossiere, Co-Founder Haiti Action Committee David McReynolds, former Chair War Resisters International Jeffrey Ballinger, Executive Director Press for Change Mary Anne Mercer, DrPH, Deputy Director Health Alliance International Ben Manski, Esq., Executive Director Liberty Tree Foundation John J. Witeck, Coordinator Philippine Workers Support Committee Sue Severin Former IFET-OP and SOMET election observer Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space Brunswick, ME David Hartsough, Executive Director PEACEWORKERS, San Francisco, CA USA Diana Bohn, NICCA Co-Coordinator Nicaragua Center for Community Action Elaine Donovan Concerned Citizens for Peace, Honeoye, New York Lon Burnam Texas State Representative Dr Michael McKinley, Senior Lecturer, International Relations & Strategy, Political Science & International Relations Programme. School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University Ellen E Barfield, Activist WRL, VFP, SOA Watch, NCNR, WILPF, Baltimore Pledge of Resistance Jesse Lokahi Heiwa Asia Pacific Action in Turtle Island & elsewhere * organization for identification purposes only Cc: members UN Security Council UN Secretary-General

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