Subject: UN Rights Chief: Justice Must Not Let E Timorese Down

also: SMH: Five Militia Face Murder Charges in East Timor

Associated Press March 20, 2000

UN Rights Chief: Justice Must Not Let E Timorese Down

GENEVA (AP)--The people of East Timor "must not be let down" by efforts to prosecute those responsible for the violence in the territory last year, the United Nations' top human rights official said Monday.

The credibility of Indonesia's prosecution efforts remains under scrutiny but there is no time limit for making any judgment on it, said Mary Robinson, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

A U.N. commission of inquiry in January recommended an international tribunal be established to try leading members of Indonesia's military and police who were behind the wave of terror that swept through East Timor after its Aug. 30 vote for independence.

But last month, the U.N. Security Council threw its support behind an Indonesian prosecution, making no recommendation for an international tribunal.

"It's not a case of measuring a delay," Robinson told a news conference. "We are talking about the credibility of the response of the authorities in Indonesia with the additional safeguard of the fact that there is a commission of inquiry."

"Those who are charged with and against whom there are serious allegations of gross violations must not escape the responsibility and accountability for their actions," she added.

"We have to remember that they were particularly gross, that the people of East Timor courageously came out in their thousands and voted under U.N. auspices and paid a terrible price. And they must not be let down."

Indonesia has said it should be allowed to prosecute those responsible for the violence, and a national human rights commission has implicated top military and police members by name.

Although backing Indonesia's right to mount a trial, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned that an international tribunal could be set up if Indonesia fails to carry out a credible judicial process.

The violence that followed East Timor's overwhelming independence vote saw at least 250 people killed and thousands of homes and buildings destroyed.

Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it a year later.

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