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TIMOR-LESTE – Will UN ever act to condemn illegal occupation?

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East Timor and IndonesiaAction Network (ETAN) urged the UN Security
Council on 20 October 2009 to "hold accountable those responsible for
the crimes committed during the illegal occupation of Timor-Leste".
Below is their statement, endorsed by about 50 non-governmental
East Timor and IndonesiaAction Network (ETAN) urged the UN Security
Council on 20 October 2009 to "hold accountable those responsible for
the crimes committed during the illegal occupation of Timor-Leste".
Below is their statement, endorsed by about 50 non-governmental

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
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.

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

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.

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.
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.

must be a direct UN responsibility to ensure that there is no impunity
for serious crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and

For the complete statement, please click here (ETAN website).