Subject: Statements on Justice during Aug 24 Security Council

Statements made in Security Council on August 24, 2004, about justice for serious crimes committed in East Timor in 1999 (No mention was made of crimes before 1999.) Source: UN doc S/PV.5024

Prepared by John M. Miller, East Timor Action Network



In the sphere of human rights, we welcome the assistance provided by UNMISET through the Serious Crimes Unit in an effort to shed light on the crimes committed in 1999. We also wish to highlight the strategy put forward to process, before May 2005, all the arrest warrants issued against indicted persons whose cases have not yet gone before a tribunal. We must keep in mind that it is likely that that work will not be completed by the scheduled date, and that we should therefore not discount the possibility of taking additional measures in the future if necessary.

In the same vein, we especially appreciate the work being done by the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation. We look forward with interest to its final report and recommendations on additional activities, which the Commission will issue towards the end of October.


In the area of serious crimes, we remain concerned by the number of indicted individuals 279 accused — assumed to be outside of East Timor and therefore outside the reach of the Serious Crimes Unit. As I emphasized to the Council last February, the human rights violations committed in East Timor in 1999 have not been forgotten and the process of accountability for those atrocities should achieve justice.

While outside the mandate of UNMISET, the recent rulings by an appeals court in Indonesia, in overturning four Ad Hoc Human Rights Tribunal convictions, directly impacts on the larger issue of achieving accountability. The decisions and the overall ad hoc tribunal process were seriously flawed and failed to provide a full and credible accounting for the abuses that occurred in East Timor in 1999. It is critical for the development of democratic institutions in both Indonesia and East Timor that there be some level of accountability for the 1999 atrocities. Given the limited jurisdiction of the Serious Crimes Unit and the failure of the Indonesian Ad Hoc Tribunal process, additional remedial measures may be required to achieve justice. We believe an independent international truth commission, composed of international experts, should be seriously considered as one option for accountability.


As far as the fight against impunity is concerned, we encourage the international community to continue to provide support — particularly diplomatic and financial support — to the improvement of the judicial system in Timor-Leste, as well as to the work of the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation. We consider this to be an essential part of any process of democratic consolidation. The need to redress all cases of impunity and violations of human rights should not be limited to efforts, however praiseworthy, to act against those who committed the most serious crimes in 1999.

All perpetrators of crimes and violations of human rights, be they serious or minor, need to be punished in a new State such as Timor-Leste. My delegation takes this opportunity to call on all parties concerned — inside and outside Timor-Leste — the donor community and human rights organizations, as well as the Dili and Jakarta Governments, to make all possible efforts to build a culture of respect for human rights in this new nation, which will provide a solid basis for a democratic State and will accelerate its development process.


Looking to the future, we are well aware that much remains to be done. Here, I wish to draw the Council’s attention to two matters. The first — to which others have already referred — is impunity, on which I associate myself with the comments made earlier by the representative of the United States with respect to some recent court decisions related to serious crimes committed in 1999. In that connection, let me ask Mr. Annabi whether he believes that the international community could take additional steps, and what they might be.


We welcome the continued progress of the Serious Crimes Unit as well as the work of the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation on the development of recommendations for policy and programmes....

Again, as the Secretary-General notes, the full cooperation of Member States remains important. Like others, we are disappointed about the recent overturning of convictions by the Ad Hoc Human Rights Tribunal of Indonesia in Jakarta and about the failure of the ad hoc tribunal process to deliver justice. The United Kingdom looks forward to working with the Secretary-General to devise a mechanism to ensure accountability for the serious crimes committed in 1999. We commend the continued efforts of Timor- Leste and Indonesia towards reaching agreement on the land border, and we hope that early progress will be made in finalizing arrangements for management of the border area.


With regard to justice in the area of serious crimes, my delegation awaits the final report of the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation. We note the Secretary-General’s observation that the remaining time frame and the limited resources for the serious crimes process may not be sufficient to fully bring to justice those responsible for the violence in 1999. We join the Secretary-General in his call for those responsible for the serious crimes in 1999 to be brought to justice. We believe that that should be done in the most practical, appropriate and effective manner, taking into consideration the views, sensitivities and cooperation of the parties concerned.


An important phase in the building of the rule of law is consolidating the judicial system, the first objective of which should be combating all forms of impunity. Therefore, it is essential for the justice system of Timor-Leste to be given the effective means necessary to bring all those who have committed serious crimes to justice and ensure that the entire population enjoys impartial justice on a daily basis. This is why Benin believes that countries that shelter the perpetrators of — and those responsible for — the atrocities of 1999 must hand them over to the Timorese State so that they may be tried in accordance with the standards and norms of international justice. This is an international obligation that States must fulfil so as to ensure justice for the victims of these deplorable events.


Reconciliation is an important part of nation-building. The rule of law must be reinforced and confidence in State authority re-established. It is therefore of utmost importance that all perpetrators of serious crimes are brought to justice. Impunity is no option. In this regard, we express our confidence in all parties involved that the legal proceedings against the perpetrators of the crimes of 1999 are conducted in due course and in an appropriate manner.



Of particular concern is the fact that, in spite of the progress in the prosecution of serious crimes since the Secretary-General’s last report (S/2004/333), it seems that the serious crimes process may not be able to fully respond to the desire for justice of those affected by the violence in 1999. This means that many cases of grave human rights violations will not be investigated, and victims and their families will be denied justice. Romania stands ready to work in this regard with the other members of the Security Council and with the Secretariat....

In addition, the cooperation of Member States is more necessary than ever to ensure that those responsible for serious crimes do not enjoy impunity. We believe that many of the persons indicted as part of the serious crimes process remain outside Timor-Leste and have not been brought to justice.



However, as noted by the report of the Secretary- General, much remains to be done in the months remaining before the conclusion of UNMISET’s mandate. We are particularly concerned about the lack of training for mid-level civil servants and the major shortcomings still present in the judicial area. In that regard, we fully agree with the Secretary-General’s observations in his report regarding trials for serious crimes committed in 1999. For its part, Spain will continue to lend its support to bring an end to impunity for such acts.



Justice in the reconciliation process is a cornerstone to guaranteeing a stable society, in particular for those countries like ours emerging from conflict. In East Timor, the Commission of Reception and Reconciliation has played a very important role in this respect. With regard to the work of the Serious Crimes Unit, progress was made in the prosecution of serious crimes, as acknowledged in the Secretary- General’s report. My delegation hopes that the work of the Serious Crimes Unit will be completed, as called for in Security Council resolution 1543 (2004). As a society, we would like to put the past behind us and look with confidence towards the future.

NETHERLANDS on behalf of EU

Despite the clear successes in most fields and the cautious advances in others, the European Union regrets to state that it still identifies an area of serious concern. Ending impunity and promoting a culture of accountability and transparency is one of the key tasks of post-independence Timor-Leste. The European Union has always supported all efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators of the serious crimes committed in the then-East Timor in 1999. Several efforts have been made, and, with a view to giving the processes the benefit of the doubt and a chance to observe international standards in the trials of suspected human rights abusers, the European Union has generally refrained from overly explicit public observations so far.

However, the European Union now considers the process towards justice and impunity to have gone awry. The serious-crimes process — although it is being conducted competently — has not resulted in bringing all perpetrators to justice, given that many of the indicted are still believed to be outside Timor- Leste. The European Union therefore calls on States Members of the United Nations to extend their full cooperation, as called for by the Secretary-General, to ensure that those responsible for serious crimes do not enjoy impunity. This issue is gaining urgency, as, in conformity with the current mandate of UNMISET, the Serious Crimes Unit will be terminated in May 2005.

The European Union has noted with concern the recent overturning of convictions by the Ad Hoc Human Rights Tribunal of Indonesia in Jakarta. The European Union expected the trials to be conducted according to international standards, to which the Government of Indonesia is itself deeply committed. We hope that the Indonesian Government will do its utmost to ascertain the credibility of the judicial process. In that regard, the European Union intends to support any future action in that regard by all concerned, including the Secretary-General.


We continue to strongly support the work of the Serious Crimes Unit and Special Panels as essential components of an internationally supported process to see justice served for crimes committed in East Timor in 1999. We are encouraged by the advice that the Serious Crimes Unit has prepared a strategy to complete its work, according to the timetable set by the Security Council in resolution 1543 (2004). Bilaterally, we have also given strong support to the work of Timor-Leste’s Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, which complements the work of the Serious Crimes Unit in respect of lesser crimes.

New Zealand has consistently said that those responsible for the crimes committed in Timor-Leste in 1999 must be brought to justice in a manner consistent with the standards of international law. We are deeply concerned that the ad hoc processes established for this purpose appear to have failed. We do not consider it acceptable for the international community to tolerate an environment of impunity. If domestic processes are not able to ensure justice, we see a role for the United Nations and the Security Council in ensuring that accountability is established and justice is seen to be done.



We note in particular the support given for the public administration and justice system and for justice in the area of serious crimes, the support to the development of law enforcement and the support for the security and stability of Timor-Leste.


My final remarks relate to the responsibility of the international community and the Security Council in relation to Timor-Leste in the context of ending impunity and promoting accountability and transparency.

In September 1999, the people of Timor-Leste unreservedly trusted the United Nations. We are all aware of what happened. A premeditated campaign of terror forced tens of thousands of people to flee to the mountains, and others were herded and forced to leave the country. People were slaughtered, property looted and more than 80 per cent of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed.

In that context, the Government of Indonesia gave assurances that those responsible for those gross violations of human rights and international law would be brought to justice. The international community relied on that commitment.

Portugal would like to recall the commitment of the Government of Indonesia, in the context of respect for international standards of justice and fairness, to bring to justice those responsible for violations of human rights and humanitarian law in Timor-Leste. However, the verdicts did not result in a substantiated account of the human rights violations that took place in Timor-Leste.

Moreover, deeply disappointing were the recent overturning on appeal of the convictions of the four military and police officers originally convicted on charges of committing atrocities in Timor-Leste, and in particular the latest decisions, by which, of 18 defendants, only two, who are civilians and of East Timorese origin, are serving jail terms.

We would like to underline the importance we attach to accountability and respect for human rights. In that regard, Portugal is following with great attention the efforts of the Secretary-General and the international community in the search for a viable conclusion to the work of the structures put in place to investigate the human rights violations that occurred in Timor-Leste.


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