Subject: UNOTIL's Daily Media Review 28 Dec 2005


Daily Media Review

Compiled by the Public Information Office from national and international sources

Daily Media Review

Wednesday, 28 December 2005

National Media Reports

Minister Lobato's case and government authority: Observation

The actions of Minister of Interior Rogério Lobato in taking things into his own hands regarding a traffic accident in Delta Comoro two months ago is possibly the first time that this occurred in Timor-Leste. To date there has been no finalization of this case, but we would hope that a criminal case involving a Minister would be processed via the appropriate legal channels. This would demonstrate to the people that the law does not differentiate based on social class.

Speaking on Tuesday to the students about to leave for Cuba, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said that he has not yet been requested to grant immunity from the law for this case, as immunity is not required during the investigations stage, but only at the trial stage. In saying such, Alkatiri has given the impression that he is prepared to grant such immunity, and he has even previously stated that he understands Minister Lobato's actions, as he himself is sometimes forced to take action against citizens who are not following established procedures. However, he said that such action should not include assault.

Related to the same case, Vice-Minister of Interior Alcino Barris has said that any investigation of the case must first be authorized by Alkatiri. Speaking to journalists last Friday, Barris said that the police must first be authorized by the Prime Minister to carry out an investigation. (STL)

PM Alkatiri's statements on future Timor-Leste health system and T-L & USA bilateral ties due to Timorese students studying medicine in Cuba

Speaking to the media yesterday, PM Mari Alkatiri said that Timor-Leste is expecting to implement a free health care system similar to Cuba's since it is an important sector that should serve the population. Therefore, he appealed to the over 200 Timorese students departing for Cuba to be elite doctors when returning from Cuba. He added that Cuba has the best health care system in the world because apart from the advanced medical equipment, poor peasants can be treated equally as rich persons because the health care system is free. A free health care system is one which the government dreams of putting in place, reported the journal.

When asked about the impact of Timor-Leste and Cuba bilateral ties on the country's bilateral ties with the United States of America, PM Alkatiri stated that Timor-Leste's cooperation in the health sector with Cuba will not affect its bilateral ties with USA because the country is willing to cooperate with anybody, and Cuba happens to have the best health system in the world. Therefore, Timor-Leste wants to learn from Cuba's health care system in order to implement it in Timor-Leste. PM Alkatiri also explained that there are things that the country can share with US position but there are also issues that the country views independently on whether to vote for or against with USA or other countries. But, the whole point that the current government is trying to do is to get the best for its future generation, particularly by having a couple of thousand Timorese doctors by 2015 based on the target set for Timor-Leste's health sector.

The report further mentioned that apart from sending up to 627 students to study in Cuba, Timor-Leste National University has also started a medicine programme in 2005. The other impacting progress from the cooperation between Cuba and Timor-Leste's government has been the current presence of 65 Cuban doctors in Timor-Leste and 300 doctors pledged by Cuba. (JND)

Minister Horta: Indonesia authorizes Timor-Leste to open its consulate in West Timor

Speaking to media after he was questioned regarding the opening of a Timor-Leste consulate in West Timor, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Jose Ramos Horta confirmed that Indonesia has authorised Timor-Leste to establish a consulate in West Timor. He further explained that despite the authorization, a consulate has not functioned officially since it has not received any letter from the Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs as to whether the consulate is to be opened today or not. Minister Horta further confirmed it is expected that Timor-Leste will also establish its consulates in Surabaya and Bali. (JND)

Regional Media Reports

East Timor president urges refugees to return home from Indonesia

KUPANG, East Nusa Tenggara: East Timor's President Xanana Gusmão said Tuesday that some 16,000 refugees from his country living in neighbouring West Timor or Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara would be welcome to return home.

"It is up to the people to make the best decision. The doors of Timor Leste (East Timor) will always be opened, we will always accept them," Gusmão told East Nusa Tenggara officials during a one-day visit to the impoverished province. Gusmão's call came just four days before the United Nations refugee agency closes its humanitarian mission in the province after four years.

An estimated 250,000 people fled or were forcibly transported by militia gangs across the border to East Nusa Tenggara during the violence that surrounded East Timor's August 1999 UN-sponsored referendum. East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia despite intimidation by pro-Jakarta militias.

The majority of refugees have since returned to East Timor but around 16,000 opted to remain in Indonesia. Some were members of the militias that went on an arson and killing spree before and after the 1999 ballot.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees deputy regional representative, Henrik Nordentoft, said earlier this month that "special circumstances demonstrating an ongoing need for international protection and assistance for refugees no longer exists."

East Nusa Tenggara Governor Piet Tallo, speaking after talks with Gusmão, said Indonesia remained committed to help the refugees since their plight was a "humanitarian problem that needs to be properly handled."

The United Nations has said the militia gangs were recruited and directed by Indonesia's military. They killed about 1,400 independence supporters and laid waste to much of the infrastructure in East Timor, which had been invaded by Indonesia in 1975 after the Portuguese colonial administration abandoned the territory. East Timor gained full independence in May 2002 after more than two years of UN stewardship. (The Jakarta Post, AFP, ABC News)

East Timor president meets former pro-Jakarta militia leader

East Timorese President Xanana Gusmão and former pro-Jakarta militia leader Eurico Guterres agreed Tuesday to work toward reconciliation in the first meeting of the two former arch-foes. ''None has won, none has lost, because we both lost our fighters, so reconciliation is the best way for us,'' Guterres told reporters after the meeting. The meeting took place in Kupang, the main town in Indonesia's West Timor bordering East Timor. Gusmão also invited Guterres to visit East Timor. Guterres accepted the invitation and said he plans to go in early January, bringing with him 26 former militia leaders.

Gusmão said he will guarantee Guterres' safety during the visit, saying he will not be arrested over human rights abuses he and his men committed before, during and after a 1999 U.N.-organized referendum in which East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia. The vote triggered a deadly rampage by pro-Indonesian militias that were armed and organized by Indonesia's military.

The governments of East Timor and Indonesia set up the Commission of Truth and Friendship, carrying a one-year mandate to reveal the truth behind human right abuses in 1999. The commission has been tasked with establishing a ''conclusive truth of events'' to promote reconciliation and friendship and to ensure that such tragic events will not be repeated. The commission, consisting of 10 members, five each from Indonesia and East Timor, has worked since Aug. 11 and has a mandate for a year that can be extended one more year.

All 17 military and civilians officers charged with human rights abuses in East Timor have been acquitted in a series of trials at the Jakarta-based Ad Hoc Human Rights Court for East Timor, while Guterres is still having his case processed. (Antara, Kompas, AFP, Kyodo)

National News Sources Timor Post (TP), Radio Timor-Leste (RTL) Suara Timor Lorosae (STL), Diario Tempo (DT) Diario Nacional, Seminario, Lia Foun (LF, Televisaun Timor-Leste [TVTL]-

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