Subject: FT: UN Judiciary Efforts in East Timor for the 1999 Atrocities Criticised

Financial Times (UK) June 18, 2006

UN judiciary efforts in East Timor criticised

By Shawn Donnan in Jakarta

The United Nations' efforts to seek justice for the 1999 atrocities in East Timor were plagued by mistakes and missteps, abandoned prematurely, and have contributed to the fragile state of the tiny country's fledgling judiciary, according to a forthcoming report.

The 140-page study written for the US-funded East-West Center by a leading expert on international war crimes tribunals comes as the UN faces criticism over its nation-building efforts in East Timor.

The recent critiques followed the deployment of an Australian-led peacekeeping force to East Timor to address the worst violence seen there since Indonesia's scorched-earth withdrawal in 1999 left up to 1,500 dead.

The report, written by David Cohen, head of the War Crimes Studies Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and obtained by the Financial Times, is surfacing as the UN takes a leading role in a fresh investigation into recent atrocities in East Timor.

Among those is the May 25 massacre of 10 unarmed local policemen who were convinced to lay down their weapons by UN police advisers trying to negotiate an end to a siege by East Timorese soldiers of the national police headquarters.

Sukehiro Hasegawa, the UN's top official in East Timor, indicated on Friday that the new process ­ which will see any charges tried in a local Timorese court ­ would need a substantial UN engagement. The court's building would take a year to repair following damage done in a recent wave of looting, he said. But Mr Hasegawa said he had also been told by local and international judges already working in East Timor that "additional judges, court clerks, translators/interpreters and defence lawyers" would be needed.

Efforts to bring leading Indonesian generals and others to trial for the 1999 violence have been stalled for years, thanks largely to Indonesia's refusal to hand over suspects and the international community's reluctance to pressure a newly democratic Indonesia. East Timorese leaders have also declined to push the issue for the sake of good relations with Jakarta.

But the East-West Center report focuses on what it argues are failings by the UN, which ran a special "hybrid" UN/local tribunal to hear "serious crimes" cases related to the 1999 violence from June 2000 until May 2005. During that time UN prosecutors filed 95 indictments against 391 people, more than 300 of which are thought to be in Indonesia.

"At the root of all the problems of the Serious Crimes process," Mr Cohen writes, "was the failure by the UN to ensure proper leadership, a clear mandate, political will, and clear 'ownership' of the process from the very beginning."

The report accuses the UN of a "massive institutional failure_._._._to create a judicial enterprise worthy of the values and standards that the United Nations represents".

The UN, Mr Cohen writes, also missed a good opportunity to use Timorese judges involved in the special tribunal as the building blocks of a new judicial system.

------------------- Joyo Indonesia News Service

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