Subject: JP: RI, E. Timor balk at UN experts commission idea

December 21, 2004

RI, E. Timor balk at UN experts commission idea

Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia and its former province East Timor are set to reject an idea to establish a commission of experts to review the judicial processes of human rights abuse cases involving Indonesian military and police officers during a meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan this week, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in Jakarta.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda left for New York on late Sunday for talks with Annan.

Hassan and his East Timorese counterpart Jose Ramos Horta will jointly meet with Annan some time this week.

The two ministers will share their views on the formation of commission of experts, which was proposed by the UN, to focus on alleged human rights abuses in East Timor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Marty Natalegawa said.

"In this connection, together with Foreign Minister (East Timor's) Horta, Pak Hassan is expected to brief Annan regarding the two countries' views on how best to address the issue of alleged violations of human rights in East Timor and how to promote friendship between the two countries," Marty told The Jakarta Post.

The UN secretary general proposed the establishment of an international commission of experts following calls from several non-governmental organizations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, after Indonesian courts acquitted a number of security and civilian officials.

The commission was aimed at reviewing whether or not judicial processes on human right violations in East Timor had been properly conducted.

East Timor separated from Jakarta following the 1999 autonomy plebiscite that was marred by violence carried out by pro-Indonesia militia in which more than 1,400 people were killed.

Indonesia and East Timor, however, have repeatedly rejected the idea for a commission of experts, expressing the desire to maintain cordial relationships in the spirit of reconciliation.

"In principle, we can not accept the idea (of the commission of experts) as it would create new precedents in the judicial processes of sovereign countries," Marty said.

"The Indonesian government itself can not intervene and conduct any evaluation of our own judiciary, so why we should allow UN to evaluate our judiciary," he said.

East Timor's leadership has also reiterated that it needs good relations with Indonesia.

The visit by Ministers Hassan and Horta to New York follows discussions between the two ministers in Jakarta last Sunday and bilateral talks between President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and East Timor President Xanana Gusmao at the Tampak Siring Palace in Denpasar, Bali, on last Tuesday.

European Union member countries, the United States and New Zealand had expressed disappointment over the Indonesian courts' acquittals of military and civilian officers.

They also demanded that an international court deal with rights abuses by Indonesian officers during Jakarta's rule in East Timor.

But Dili has said that it would prefer to have an international truth and reconciliation commission rather than a court. Dili set up its own commission in 2002.

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