Subject: AP: Amnesty: U.N. East Timor administration must move faster to protect rights

Amnesty: U.N. East Timor administration must move faster to protect rights

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 28, 2000 (AP) -- Amnesty International called Tuesday for the U.N. administration in East Timor to move faster to establish a functioning judicial system and beef up law enforcement to ensure that the rights of all its people are protected.

In a report to mark the first anniversary of East Timor's vote for independence, the human rights organization warned the United Nations that it has a unique responsibility to protect the Timorese and ensure they can participate in building their own country.

Curt Goering, senior deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA, said the East Timorese demonstrated their determination to claim their basic human rights and decide their own future by voting in the face of violence and intimidation a year ago.

"They should not be made to wait any longer to have those rights fulfilled," Goering said in a statement accompanying the report.

East Timor's people voted overwhelmingly last Aug. 30 to separate from Indonesia, which invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it the following year. But pro-Indonesian militias went on a looting and killing rampage to protest the results - violence that only ended when international peacekeepers moved in and restored calm.

The United Nations is administering the territory until it becomes fully independent, a process expected to accelerate after elections in 2001.

The U.N. transitional authority has been criticized by the East Timorese and some Security Council members for delays and overly bureaucratic procedures.

Amnesty said it recognized the scale of the United Nations' task in rebuilding a territory that was burned and looted in the post-referendum rampage. But it said the delays in implementing new laws and policies and building a police force to protect the East Timorese could have a long-term negative impact.

In particular, Amnesty noted that no one has been charged or brought to trial for any serious crimes.

"Investigations and trials must proceed as quickly as possible, so that the future of East Timor can be built on foundations of justice and the rule of law - and not impunity," Goering said.

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