Subject: SMH: Dili moves towards own judiciary

Sydney Morning Herald Thursday, January 6, 2000

Dili moves towards own judiciary

By MARK DODD, Herald Correspondent in Dili, and agencies

East Timor yesterday took the first steps towards creating an independent judiciary with the establishment of a Transitional Judicial Service Commission.

A United Nations spokesman in Dili, Mr Diego Zorilla, said the commission would oversee the appointment of judges and prosecutors.

"The commission is composed of five members, three of whom are East Timorese, two of whom are international," Mr Zorilla said. "It is expected that the commission will make recommendations to the Transitional Administrator as early as Friday for the appointment of the first 10 professionals of the justice system of East Timor."

The commission is chaired by the Bishop of Baucau, Basilio dos Nascimento. The 10 lawyers will comprise four judges, two prosecutors and four public defenders.

During 24 years of Indonesian rule, which formally ended in October, East Timor lacked an independent judiciary and court rulings were frequently influenced by the military or police.

Meanwhile, about 200 supporters of the student-based Socialist Workers Alliance of Timor staged a noisy but peaceful demonstration outside the gates of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor yesterday.

Signs in the local Tetum language said: "The people of East Timor need food and medicine, not hotels or discotheques. Give job opportunities to the new generation of East Timor."

A statement issued by the group complained of aid workers driving around Dili in "fancy cars" and living in "fantastic buildings" at the expense of ordinary East Timorese, who still lacked many basic necessities.

Meanwhile, the United Nations reported yesterday that crime has begun to rise in East Timor.

Incidents include fighting between gangs, break-ins at the homes of UN staff members and foreign aid workers, and the attempted rape of a local UN employee, a UN spokesman, Mr Fred Eckhard, said.

"There are a lot of young people on the streets with nothing to do. So they tend to form into small groups and wander around town and bump into rival groups and start fighting," he said.

The UN civilian police in East Timor have asked for more equipment to protect themselves.

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