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Joint Timor-Indonesia Commission is a Farce

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The Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) has been marred by inconsistencies and a lack of judicial power, leaving the victims’ quest for justice unrealised and the perpetrators free—a classic case of impunity. The presidents of Indonesia and Timor Leste must ensure that the commission has a prosecuting mechanism by incorporating provisions from the UN-backed
Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR).


Dear President Yudhoyono and President Ramos-Horta,

You will recall that the June 2005 report to the United Nations Secretary-General of the Commission of Experts to Review the Prosecution of Serious Violations of Human Rights in Timor-Leste (then East Timor) in 1999 recommended that Indonesia review prosecutions before the Ad Hoc Human Rights Court for Timor-Leste, investigate and prosecute those named in the Wiranto et al indictment, and report to the Secretary-General within six months of a date to be determined by him on the outcome of its investigations. It also recommended that if these measures were not initiated within this time frame, the Security Council should act to “create an ad hoc international criminal tribunal for Timor-Leste”.

Before that report could be properly considered by the Secretary-General and the Security Council, your two governments set up the Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF/KKP) to “establish the conclusive truth in regard to the events prior to and immediately after the popular consultation in 1999.” However, the CTF has had many problems since its inception. They include:

  1. A lack of legitimacy attributable to three main factors: the perception that the CTF was established to avoid calls for an international criminal tribunal to try those accused of crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste in 1999; the failure to address crimes committed before 1999; and the amnesty provision, which would allow perpetrators of serious crimes to avoid accountability.
  2. The absence of any clear procedure for reviewing existing evidence about the violence in 1999 in order to arrive at a consensus about the truth, especially since key Indonesian government institutions have failed to provide relevant records.
  3. Serious deficiencies in the public hearings, including obvious biases on the part of some commissioners; the introduction of testimony irrelevant to the Commission’s mandate; the absence of any means for cross-checking testimonies against facts established by previous processes or actual evidence; conflict between Indonesian and Timor-Leste Commissioners; lack of assistance and protection for victims who testify; the ad hoc nature of witness testimonies; an imbalance of representation between victims and perpetrators; and the use of the public hearings as a forum for perpetrators to continue to blame the United Nations and other actors for the violence.
  4. Lack of transparency, clarity and a clear timetable for the Commission’s work.

It is obvious from its mandate and its performance that the CTF is not a credible mechanism to seek justice or even truth regarding events in Timor-Leste in 1999, let alone from 1975 to 1999. Out of respect for the victims of the violence and the rule of law in both nations, we, the undersigned representatives of human rights and other civil society groups in Timor-Leste, Indonesia and other nations, therefore urge you to immediately abandon the CTF and support a more credible judicial

With the agreement of the Indonesian Government to extradite those within its jurisdiction, and given greater resources and political backing than previously, the Special Panels for Serious Crimes (SPSC) of the Dili District Court could be reconstituted to complete outstanding prosecutions. The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste has already taken the first step in this direction, by undertaking to complete the investigations which remained unfinished when the Serious Crimes Unit was closed down prematurely in 2005.

Given the inevitable and wholesale failure of the CTF/KKP we therefore call for the reconstitution of the SPSC. If that is not possible, we will continue to call for the establishment of an international criminal tribunal in line with the Commission of Experts report.

Other efforts that your governments could make to address the human rights violations committed during the Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste include requesting the United Nations Security Council to implement former UN Secretary-General Annan’s recommendation, made in his Report on Justice and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste in June 2006, for an International Solidarity Fund for Timor-Leste; and discussion in both national parliaments on how to implement the recommendations in Chega!, the Report of the Timor-Leste Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR).

Finally, we draw your attention to the 4 May letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon from the International Center for Transitional Justice, and the 28 March statement from the Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal. Both of these initiatives are also highly critical of the CTF and urge the creation of a credible mechanism to hold accountable high-level perpetrators of crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste. Anything less will fail to resolve this issue, which will continue to hamper the growth of democracy and respect for the rule of law in both Indonesia and Timor-Leste.

Yours Sincerely,

Yasinta Lujina
La'o Hamutuk (Timor-Leste Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis)

Rosa Maria de Sousa, Executive Director
FOKUPERS (Communication Forum for Timor-Leste Women)

Jose Luis Oliveira, Director
HAK Association, Timor-Leste

Casimiro Dos Santos, Deputy Director
JSMP (Judicial System Monitoring Programme), Timor-Leste

Nicolau Alves, Secretariat
Timor-Leste National Alliance For International Tribunal

Edio Saldanha, representing families of victims, Timor-Leste

Maria Afonso de Jesus
Rate Laek (Victims group from Liquisa), Timor-Leste

Carolina do Ceu Brito
Nuno Rodriguez
Institution for Popular Education, Timor-Leste

Sisto do Santos
Front Estudante Timor-Leste, Timor-Leste

Maria Angelina Sarmento
Executive Director, Timor-Leste NGO Forum (FONGTIL)

Rafendi Djamin, Coordinator
Human Rights Working Group, Indonesia

Usman Hamid, Coordinator
KONTRAS, Indonesia

Rusdi Marpaung, Director
Imparsial — The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor

Garda Sembiring, Director
PEC – People's Empowerment Consortium

Ikatan Keluarga Orang Hilang Indonesia – IKOHI (Indonesian Association of Families of Disappeared)

Muridan S. Widjojo
Research Institute for Democracy and Peace (RIDEP), Jakarta

Dr Mark Byrne, Convenor
Australian Coalition for Transitional Justice in East Timor

Sister Josephine Mitchell, Director
Sister Susan Connelly, Assistant Director
Mary MacKillop East Timor

Rob Wesley-Smith
AFFET (Australians for a Free East Timor), Darwin

Gus Miclat
Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)

Anselmo Lee, Executive Director
Tadzrul Tahir Hamzah, Southeast Asia Sub-region Program Officer
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Roger S. Clark, Executive Committee
International League for Human Rights

Graeme Simpson, Director, Country Programs Unit
International Center for Transitional Justice

Charles Scheiner, International Secretariat
International Federation for East Timor (IFET)

Antonio Dias and Bruno Kahn
Agir pour Timor, France

John M. Miller
National Coordinator
East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, USA

James Goldston, Executive Director
Open Society Justice Initiative, USA

Sharon Silber & Eileen B. Weiss
Co-Founders, Jews Against Genocide, USA

Sr. Sheila Kinsey, OSF
Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation Office of the Wheaton Franciscans, USA

(Rev.) James Kofski
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, USA

Ed McWilliams
West Papua Advocacy Team , USA

Mark C. Johnson, Ph.D., Executive Director
The Fellowship of Reconciliation, USA

Maire Leadbeater
Indonesia Human Rights Committee, New Zealand

Carmel Budiardjo, Director
TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, UK

Christine Allen, Executive Director

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