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As Security Council Readies Visit to Timor-Leste, Rights Groups Call For Justice and Accountability

 

PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202 USA +1/917-690-4391; etan@etan.org

November 21, 2007

Dear Security Council member,

Protest_against_CTF_Dili

Protest against the Commission for Friendship

Photo: José Caetano Guterres

As your delegation prepares to leave for Timor-Leste, we write to urge you to pay careful attention to the transitional justice process for that country. As you will be aware, the people of Timor-Leste suffered countless war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Indonesian invasion and 24-year occupation of their homeland, in violation of numerous United Nations resolutions and human rights treaties. We remind you of the Security Council’s earlier commitments, expressed more than seven years ago in Resolutions 1264 and 1272, to bring those responsible to justice. Indonesia’s Ad Hoc Human Rights Court and the bilateral Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) have proven manifestly unsuitable in both design and implementation to the task of delivering justice in accordance with international law. We applaud the Secretary-General’s decision not to give legitimacy to the CTF unless it terms of reference are substantially changed. The Serious Crimes process (which only dealt with crimes committed in 1999) was terminated by the Security Council in May 2005 although its work was far from complete. Since then the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) has re-established the Serious Crimes Investigation Team to complete investigations into outstanding cases from 1999. What will happen to the results of these investigations? A total of 290 individuals already indicted under the serious crimes process remain at large in Indonesia, outside the jurisdiction of Timor-Leste. No formal investigations or proceedings are underway for the many serious crimes committed prior to 1999, with the exception of an Australian coronial inquest which recently concluded that the killings of journalists in October 1975 a war crime.

CAVR_Xanana

Xanana testifying at the hearing on political conflict of CAVR

Photo: Maria Tschanz

UNMIT’s recent “Report on human rights developments in Timor-Leste August 2006 – August 2007,” highlighted the role that the report of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CAVR) can play within Timor-Leste in both “unifying” Timorese society and helping to “foster a democratic culture based on the rule of law.” We believe that the unhealed mass trauma experienced by the East Timorese between 1975 and 1999 contributed to the crisis of 2006. The shortcomings of the local and international justice processes have helped create a culture of impunity in which many believe they can, in effect, get away with murder and other crimes. A genuine justice process can help further reconciliation both within Timor-Leste and between the Timorese and Indonesian peoples. The CAVR report’s recommendations were also addressed to the international community, specifically including the Security Council and its permanent members, as well as Indonesia, a current member. The Security Council should have an open debate that includes representatives of civil society to discuss implementing the report’s recommendations. Both the CAVR and the UN Commission of Experts recommended the creation of “an ad hoc international criminal tribunal for Timor-Leste” should Indonesia, under a strict time frame, continue to fail to credibly prosecute senior officials responsible for the devastation in 1999. If this is not feasible, we urge you to fully reconstitute the Serious Crimes process, providing it with sufficient resources and backing. This should be done in accordance with recommendations 7.1.1 and 7.1.2 of the CAVR Report – namely, the UN itself should provide the resources and judicial expertise, not Timor-Leste’s court system. The Serious Crimes process must investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed from 1975 onwards, not just those committed in 1999. Indonesia, which is currently a member of both the Security Council and UN Human Rights Council, must extradite for trial those charged by the Serious Crimes process. This call for substantive justice for past crimes is widely supported within Timor-Leste, especially by the Church and civil society. However, the leaders of Timor-Leste have favored the flawed CTF, because of concerns about standing up to Indonesia, its larger neighbor and former ruler, and especially its still largely unreformed military. However, in his inauguration speech as Prime Minister in 2006, now President Jose Ramos-Horta acknowledged the “great teachings” of the CAVR report. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, in his speech at the swearing in of members of his government in August this year, called for the consideration of the CAVR report. “We cannot ignore the lessons of the past in order to understand the current crisis, and protect the future,” he said. East Timor’s diplomatic position means that it cannot take the lead on the matter of justice in the face of opposition from its powerful neighbor. The international community, as embodied in the United Nations, must be involved in addressing these crimes which violated international criminal law, the UN charter and Security Council resolutions. If the Security Council is truly interested in upholding its international human rights responsibilities, we urge the council as a body and its individual members to implement the relevant recommendations of the CAVR and to act forcefully for justice for the people of Timor-Leste. Yours sincerely, Yasinta Lujina, Coordinator La’o Hamutuk Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis, Timor-Leste Angelina Maria Sarmento, Executive Director NGO Forum Timor-Leste Mericio Akara, Program Manager Luta Hamutuk – Timor Leste João Pequinho Forum Tau Matan, Timor-Leste Edio Saldaha Yayasan HAK, Timor-Leste Sisto do Santos Student Front, Timor-Leste José Fernandes Teixeira Member of National Parliament (elected June 2007) Former Minister for Natural Resources, Minerals and Energy Policy Second and Third Constitutional Governments Poengky Indarti, Director of External Relations Ully Sarimayam, Communication Officer Imparsial, The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor, Indonesia Rafendi Djamin, Coordinator Indonesia NGO Coalition for International Advocacy (Human Rights Working Group) Usman Hamid, Executive Director KontraS, Indonesia Winston Neil Rondo, Coordinator CIS TIMOR Volunteers Association, Indonesia Gustaf Dupe, Chairman Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (KAP T/N) Chairman, Association of Prison Ministries, Indonesia Chairman, Law Enforcement Watch (LEW), Jakarta General Secretary, Jakarta Christian Communication Forum, (FKKJ) John M. Miller, National Coordinator East Timor & Indonesian Action Network, USA UN Representative, International Federation for East Timor (IFET) Carmel Budiardjo, Director TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, UK Dr Clinton Fernandes Australian Coalition for Transitional Justice in East Timor Gus Miclat Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC), Philippines Anselmo Lee, Executive Director Tadzrul T. Hamzah, South East Asia Programme Officer FORUM-ASIA, Thailand Brad Adams, Director for Asia Human Rights Watch Pedro Pinto Leite, Secretary International Platform of Jurists for East Timor, The Netherlands Charles Scheiner, International Secretariat International Federation for East Timor Robert B. Fisher, Chairperson VIVAT International Brian Keane, Director Land is Life Roger S. Clark, Board of Trustees International League for Human Rights Shulamith Koenig Founding President PDHRE, People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning; Recipient of the 2003 UN Human Rights Award Juan Federer, Former Coordinator East Timor International Support Center Maire Leadbeater, Spokesperson Indonesia Human Rights Committee, Auckland Edwina Hughes, Coordinator Peace Movement Aotearoa Dr. Monika Schlicher, Executive Director Watch Indonesia! Working Group for Democracy, Human Rights and Environmental Protection in Indonesia and East Timor, Berlin, Germany Geoffrey C. Gunn, Professor of International Relations, Nagasaki University, Japan Former consultant sociologist to UNTAET; former consultant to CAVR on “international actors.” Kyo Kageura Japan East Timor Coalition Ahmed Seif Elislam Hamad, Executive Director Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC), Egypt James Dunn, former UNTAET expert on crimes against humanity in East Timor Dr Helen M. Hill, Chairperson Australia-East Timor Association (Victoria) Celine Massa, Campaign Organiser SEARCH Foundation, Australia Rob Wesley-Smith, Convenor Australians for a Free East Timor, Darwin Australia Jefferson Lee, Spokesperson Australia East Timor Association, NSW Australia Dr Vacy Vlazna Fmr Coordinator, East Timor Justice Lobby Sydney, Australia Brian T. Manning Campaign for an Independent East Timor, Darwin Gabriel Jonsson, Chairman Swedish East Timor Committee Carlos Semedo France-Timor Leste Bruno Kahn Directeur de recherche au CNRS Paris, France Clionadh O’ Keeffe Community Development Worker and Human Rights Activist, Ireland Ed McWilliams, retired senior Foreign Service Officer, former Political Counselor, U.S. Embassy, Jakarta West Papua Action Team, USA Neil Hicks, Director, Human Rights Defenders Program, Human Rights First Rev. Dr. Dennis M. Davidson, President Unitarian Universalist Peace Fellowship Sharon Silber & Eileen B. Weiss, Co-Founders Jews Against Genocide Sr. Sheila Kinsey, OSF, Leader Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation Office Wheaton Franciscans Rev. John Chamberlin, National Coordinator East Timor Religious Outreach Bill Ramsey Human Rights Action Service, St. Louis David Hartsough, Executive Director PEACEWORKERS, San Francisco Green Delaware Rev. James Kofski, Associate Asia/Pacific and Middle East Issues Maryknoll Global Concerns, Washington Elaine Donovan, co-founder Concerned Citizens for Peace, Hemlock, NY Wade Schemmel Conference Minister of the Northern Plains Conference, United Church of Christ Roland Watson, Founder Dictator Watch Mary T. Whittlinger, Treasurer Ecumenical American Moluccan Church Mariza Cabral Seattle International Human Rights Coalitionmargin-left: -10px;

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