Subject: Lusa: Truth and reconciliation commission holds amnesty seminar

7-07-2002 11:31:00 GMT

East Timor: Truth and reconciliation commission holds amnesty seminar

A seminar takes place Wednesday in Dili, entitled Amnesty or Reconciliation, to be held at the headquarters of East Timor`s Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR).

The one-day meeting will discuss the different viewpoints and implications of the draft law on amnesty that is currently before the Dili Parliament.

Among the high profile speakers due to give papers on the subject are the Bishop of Dili and Jacinto Alves, a Commissioner with the CAVR.

The draft bill on amnesty and pardoning of sentences has been criticized as being "unconstitutional", "too general" and open to "dangerous interpretation", by a leading Timorese nongovernmental organization concerned with legal matters.

Justice System Monitoring Program (JSMP) has analyzed the proposed amnesty bill, currently before East Timor`s Parliament, and a copy of the report has been seen by Lusa.

According to JSMP, the new legislation does not make a distinction between crimes committed during conflict periods and those committed in situations of peace.

"Granting amnesty to everyone who robbed or destroyed property after the UN arrived undoes all the police and court work in the past three years", says the JSMP report.

There is clear divergence in the position of Timor`s leaders on the amnesty question, with President Xanana Gusmao advocating a more general pardoning than the head of the country`s Catholic church, Bishop Belo, who has called for "justice" to be invoked in the matter.

The amnesty bill was approved by the Dili cabinet on May 24 and some government sources say the proposals were "hurried" in their preparation.

CJB/ASP -Lusa-



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