Subject: NZPA: Rebuilding in E Timor 'urgent'

Also: NZ ready to lead on Timor atrocities, Jan. 18, 2000

The Press (Christchurch) January 14, 2000 Rebuilding in E Timor 'urgent'

SYDNEY -- Reconstruction of East Timor needs to be done urgently to avoid further social problems and violence, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff says.

Making a four-day visit to East Timor, Mr Goff said yesterday that the task facing a country that suffered extensive destruction during Indonesia's withdrawal last year was a daunting one.

"Unless we move quickly to develop the physical infrastructure and fundamental democratic institutions, there will be enormous social problems," he said from Dili.

"At the moment, people have no access to work, little access to education, and little ability to secure their personal progress."

Mr Goff said that, as part of New Zealand's effort, Customs officers were due to head for East Timor in the next week or two to help rebuild the border system.

New Zealand police trainers were already there and New Zealand could provide a judge to assist international efforts to re-establish a judicial system.

Other areas New Zealand could play a part in were education, medical training, and agriculture -- "the list goes on and on".

Highlighting the difficulties facing East Timor, Mr Goff said most of the secondary teachers there before last August's independence ballot were from Indonesia.

"They've now departed, so there is a huge vacuum," he said.

"There's also a need to train East Timorese to be doctors and surgeons. There are just 33 Timorese doctors and only one surgeon for a population of 700,000 to 800,000."

Mr Goff is making his third visit to East Timor, but the first since independence, and his programme includes meetings with political leaders Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos Horta, when reconstruction was expected to be a major issue on the agenda.

"This time, my personal view is that there's been a huge weight lifted from the people, but there's also been a huge price to pay," he said.

He visited the house he stayed in with other MPs while observing last year's ballot and found it destroyed, along with an estimated 70 per cent of the substantial buildings in Dili.

"On the road to the airport, building after building is a hollow shell," he said.

"In other buildings where the corrugated iron could be removed, it has been removed." --NZPA

------ NZ Herald: NZ ready to lead on Timor atrocities

18.01.2000 - By THERESA GARNER

New Zealand will push for an international war crimes tribunal to punish those responsible for atrocities in East Timor if Indonesia fails to act.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phil Goff, came out of talks with his Australian counterpart, Alexander Downer, in Adelaide yesterday, promising that the war criminals responsible for destruction and slaughter in the former Indonesian-controlled territory would not go unpunished.

While Australia did not commit itself on the issue, Mr Goff said this could mean New Zealand pushing for the United Nations to set up a war crimes tribunal as it did in Rwanda and Bosnia, despite major obstacles to its success.

Indonesia opposes any such international intervention.

But Mr Goff said it would be "unthinkable" for New Zealand not to act.

Two reports, one by the United Nations Human Rights Commission, and one from Comnas-Hans, the Indonesian human rights commission, are due this month, Mr Goff said.

"Both will focus on culpability for the murder and destruction."

While he hoped Indonesia would be able to deal with its war criminals, "they will clearly have some difficulty if the chain of culpability goes quite high in the Indonesian military."

"Even with goodwill on the part of the Indonesian Government there may well be a conspiracy of silence within levels of the TNI [Indonesian Army]."

About 30 people are jailed in Dili waiting murder trials, and there was evidence to convict many of them, Mr Goff said.

"The real question is how far up the chain in the Indonesian military does culpability lie for the devastation and the slaughters."

A war crimes tribunal could be thwarted by China, which as part of the United Nations Security Council, could veto it. Also, the Bosnian tribunal had had limited success in prosecuting many key offenders.

"The best solution is to do something with the cooperation of the Indonesians, assuming their attempts to prosecute are genuine."

Mr Goff gave Mr Downer strong reassurances that New Zealand would not go soft on defence, even if New Zealand's $700 million lease and purchase of 28 F16s from the United States did not go ahead.

Australia is anxious that New Zealand maintain its defence spending, but agrees it is up to New Zealand whether to buy the jets.

Mr Goff reiterated that New Zealand's spending would not increase, despite a call by Australia to raise it. "We can only spend what our economy permits us to spend, and there are other priorities we have to consider alongside defence."

Equipment and personnel providing logistic support for the "frontline" in East Timor were a priority, with the armoured personnel carriers a "headache" and constant maintenance problem.

Back to January Menu
World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu

Note: For those who would like to fax "the powers that be" - CallCenter V3.5.8, is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge! Download from