Subject: Caritas: Evidence Collection Training Program

East Timor Evidence Collection Training Program URL: DESCRIPTION: Caritas Australia is training East Timorese to collect evidence of atrocities committed by militia and Indonesian soldiers following the successful UN independence ballot of 30 August 1999. EMAIL



The second module of a training course on evidence collection techniques will commence this week in Dili, East Timor. Sponsored by Caritas Australia, the Catholic agency for overseas aid and development, the Evidence Collection Training Program is the first in-country legal training since the systematic "scorched earth" departure of Indonesia from the territory.

This week's Training Program will be attended by over 50 Timorese people eager to establish a system of justice in East Timor, and will feature lecturers from the University of Newcastle, NSW, as well as the NSW Deputy State Coroner, Ms Jan Stevenson.

The Evidence Collection Training Program originates in the call of Dili's Bishop Belo for justice to be done in East Timor, requiring the establishment of an International Criminal Court. Through the course, local organisations will have access to legal advice and be assisted to collect physical evidence to a "best practice" standard.

Lack of an effective justice system will inevitably cause dissension and bitterness towards the international community. Local reprisals against alleged militia members are now common.

The Training Course will also include assessment of a real crime scene - the Church at Liquica - which was attacked by Indonesian-backed militia in April 1999.

With the flow of refugees returning from West Timor now slowed to a trickle, information about those missing is yet to be compiled. Another feature of the course will be the establishment of a database for missing persons.

In comparison with Kosovo, where at least 14 countries sent forensic teams immediately after international access was possible, East Timor has had very limited assistance. East Timor has only one forensic pathologist, working under atrocious conditions, lacking the most basic of equipment. For example, autopsies are currently being performed with a hack-saw.

In September 1999, at least 2000 murders were committed, approximately 200,000 persons suffered forced deportation and many hundreds of sexual assaults were inflicted.

"To date, field assessment has revealed that United Nations investigations have been completely inadequate. They are under-resourced and lack any clear plan for prosecution", says John Scott-Murphy, Caritas Australia's Advocacy and Public Policy Advisor.

Details about the Evidence Collection Training Program are accessible on the World Wide Web at

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