Subject: CONG: Sen Chafee (R-RI) to Powell on Justice for Timor

July 10, 2003

The Honorable Colin L. Powell Secretary of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Powell:

I write to add my voice to those of my colleagues who have written to you out of concern about the Indonesian Human Rights Court for East Timor. While I welcome the Administration’s criticism of the Court, I urge you to take the necessary diplomatic steps to ensure justice after the Court is adjourned.

The international community has a responsibility to ensure that justice is rendered fairly and equitably in East Timor. Many of the crimes that currently are being adjudicated were committed in 1999, during an internationally sponsored independence referendum that had strong support from the United States. We should not abrogate international responsibility to the just-born East Timorese government, with its limited political, economic, and human resources.

Many crimes in East Timor were perpetrated during an invasion and occupation that occurred in violation of the UN Charter and UN Security Council resolutions dating back to 1975. The United States should communicate clearly to East Timor’s government and the UN Secretary-General that it supports justice and opposes immunity in these cases. Such a statement, backed up by commitments of resources and continuing support, would provide essential backing for East Timor’s efforts for justice.

I urge the Administration to work towards the establishment of an international tribunal, pursue it in the international arena, and use the influence of the United States to compel the government of Indonesia to cooperate. While it may take some years to realize, I believe an international tribunal is possible if the Administration harnesses the appropriate international political resolve.

I also request that you urge the government of Indonesia to cooperate with the joint UN-East Timor Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) and Special Panel courts. More than 65 percent of the 247 people already indicted by the SCU are in Indonesia, yet Indonesian authorities thus have far refused to support the process. If the SCU and Special Panels are to complete their tasks, far greater human and material resources are needed. I further urge you to actively advocate the extension of the SCU and Special Panels mandate beyond May 2004 to ensure that numerous open cases can be completed, those already arrested can be brought to trial, and those who have been indicted but are in Indonesia will be brought to court.

Finally, I ask that you request President Bush to release the documents requested by East Timor’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation. In its January 24, 2003 letter, the Commission asked for U.S. government documents on selected historically significant events and particularly egregious human rights abuses in East Timor.

Although the United States has been generous in its support of reconstruction efforts in East Timor, the failure to hold perpetrators accountable will destabilize both East Timor and Indonesia. I urge you to support justice, the rule of law, and democracy by advocating an international tribunal for East Timor.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter and I look forward to your response.


Lincoln Chafee


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