Subject: U.N. envoy seeks more credible Indonesia-E. Timor truth
U.N. envoy seeks more credible Indonesia-E. Timor truth commission
JAKARTA, June 26 (Kyodo News) -- Atul Khare, special envoy of the U.N. secretary general for East Timor, urged Jakarta and Dili on Tuesday to enhance the efficiency and credibility of a truth commission tasked with probing the bloodshed that marred East Timor's independence vote in 1999.
''I strongly believe that justice is essential for reconciliation,'' Khare told a press conference. ''In this sense, I must say that as the United Nations, of course, we have welcomed efforts by Indonesia and Timor-Leste (East Timor) in pursuance of truth and friendship.''
''At the same time, the United Nations encourages every effort to strengthen the efficiency and credibility of the Commission of Truth and Friendship in order to ensure further conformity with the human rights principles.''
The commission, which has been working since Aug. 2 in 2005, is aimed at ''establishing a conclusive truth'' about human rights violations that occurred prior to and following the 1999 referendum in which East Timorese voted to separate from Indonesia.
It is being billed by the Indonesian and East Timorese governments as a means to promote reconciliation and rebuild ties between the two countries.
Concerns, however, have been raised by human rights groups as the commission has no power to punish those responsible, particularly current or former members of the Indonesian military and pro-Jakarta militias, or to recommend prosecution.
Early this month, East Timor's President Jose Ramos-Horta and Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono agreed to extend the mandate of the truth commission for another six months.
The truth commission was initially scheduled to last for one year but was extended another year. It sought a new ''special'' extension due to a shortage of time to complete a comprehensive report.
''I would say that my belief is that efforts to establish credible accountability do not exclude progress toward friendship and reconciliation,'' Khare said.
''In fact, it is my view that such efforts provide a much more solid foundation upon which durable friendship between the two countries and the people can be built.''
On the occasion, according to Khare, the U.N. Integrated Mission in East Timor is continuing to pursue a mandate given by the Security Council to complete investigations into the 1999 violence, which remained unfinished when the U.N.-sanctioned Serious Crime Unit was closed down in 2005.
Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1974 and annexed it the following year, taking over the territory from the 400-year colonial rule of Portugal. East Timor officially gained independence on May 20, 2002, after its people overwhelmingly voted for independence in 1999 and it came under U.N. administration for two-and-a-half years.