|Subject: E. Timor May Push For UN Panel To
Try Indonesian Officers
Received from Joyo Indonesia News
E. Timor May Push For UN Panel To Try Indonesian Officers
DILI, East Timor, Aug. 23 (AP)--East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao on Friday said the government may consider pushing the United Nations to convene a special war crimes tribunal to try Indonesian officers allegedly responsible for the destruction of the territory in 1999.
Gusmao's comments came after he met with Mary Robinson, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. He also said he told Robinson that the need for an international tribunal is being assessed.
This marked the first time that the leadership of the new nation has hinted it may support a war crimes tribunal akin to those for Rwanda and ex-Yugoslavia.
In the past, Dili has always said it trusted Indonesian courts to deliver justice to those accused of inciting the violence that led to hundreds of deaths and the destruction of much of East Timor after its people voted for independence in a U.N.-organized referendum.
Last week, two Indonesian courts acquitted a general and five other senior officers standing trial on charges of having allowed their subordinates to take part in massacres in the former Indonesian province in 1999.
The verdicts outraged human rights groups, who have long feared that most of those who unleashed the bloody mayhem across the half-island state would go unpunished, despite Indonesia's promises to the international community that justice would be done.
Foreign governments - including the U.S. - accused Indonesia of failing to aggressively prosecute the cases.
Robinson criticized the verdicts, saying prosecutors failed to present a case that demonstrated the killings and other rights violations were part of a widespread pattern of violence.
She said she planned take the issue to the U.N. Security Council.
"The verdicts did not bring justice and we're sorry about that," she said.
Robinson, on a three-day visit to East Timor, is meeting with her U.N. colleagues, top government officials and survivors of a 1999 church massacre in which nearly 100 people were killed by pro-Indonesian militias.
She will also attend a ceremony at the Santa Cruz Cemetery in Dili Sunday, remembering the 200 who were killed there in 1991 when Indonesian soldiers opened fire on protesters.
STATEMENT TO THE PRESS FROM H.E. PRESIDENT KAY RALA XANANA GUSMÃO ON HIS MEETING WITH MRS. MARY ROBINSON, UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
In the meeting today with Mrs. Mary Robinson, I had the opportunity to discuss issues related to the present state of the political process in East Timor as well as cover a few international issues.
At the national level, the discussion focused on the development of the judicial system, the need to guarantee its independent status and the prevalence of Law and the decisions of the courts. Mrs. Mary Robinson affirmed her satisfaction with the substantial and visible progress made in this area since her last visit to East Timor in August 2000. Mrs. Robinson reaffirmed the will and availability to provide assistance in the form of consultants to East Timorese judges.
In relation to NGOs and in particular, those working in the field of human rights, it was agreed that it is essential that these organizations adopt a vision on Human Rights that includes the broader issues, i.e., the need for every citizen to be aware of their rights, which must also include social and economic rights, as well as guaranteeing the existence of social justice.
Still at the national level, it was considered that justice should not be perceived as an act of revenge but rather as an affirmation of values.
At the international level, ideas were exchanged on three issues: the Ad-hoc Tribunal in Indonesia, reactions of the international community to the recent verdicts issues by this court and the appeals for the establishment of an international tribunal, the affiliation of East Timor to the United Nations, and the ratification of the legal international instruments that guarantee respect for, and define the standards of human rights.
The High Commissioner expressed her disapproval with the verdicts of the Ad-hoc Tribunal recently handed down in Jakarta. She raised doubts regarding the limitations of the tribunal´s mandate and jurisdiction, and also on the legal procedures adopted. The High Commissioner provided information regarding the reactions of the international community to the verdicts and added that the need for an international tribunal is being assessed. I informed the High Commissioner that we are also assessing this situation before issuing a public statement.
Finally, Mrs. Robinson expressed her satisfaction for the upcoming admission of East Timor to the Community of Nations as the 191st member of the United Nations. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed great hope in this admission as it will mean that important international legal instruments in the field of human rights will be signed and implemented in East Timor, making this country a fine example to the world.
Dili, 23 August 2002
Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão President the Democratic Republic of East Timor
For further information please contact Elizabeth Exposto, Media Relations Officer, Office of the President: +61 418 825 324 or +61 417 103 475 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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