Subject: STP-CAVR Appeals for Resolution of Serious Crimes Cases
also The Vatican Voices Support for Chega!
POST – CAVR Technical Secretariat
Direcção de Sede: Antigo Comarca Balide Telp: (+670)3311263 Rua de Caicoli, Balide Dili, Timor-Leste. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org P.O. Box 144, Dili, Timor Leste Website: www.cavr-timorleste.org
27 June 2008
STP-CAVR Appeals for Resolution of Serious Crimes Cases
The STP-CAVR presented a copy of the Chega! Report to Prosecutor General Longinhos Monteiro this week and urged him to continue to prosecute those responsible for serious crimes in Timor-Leste.
From 2002 until 2005 the United Nations-funded Serious Crimes Unit was mandated to investigate alleged serious crimes committed in 1999. However, the high case load and limited resources meant that when the serious crime unit’s mandate expired in 2005, 40% of cases referred to it remained unresolved. The serious crimes process was revived by the Timorese government in February of this year.
According to SCU investigators, they intend to complete 10 investigations per month until they finish investigations of some 400 remaining cases.
This includes 114 cases referred to the Office of the General Prosecutor from the CAVR. As part of its mandate, the CAVR conducted reconciliation processes to assist with the reintegration of perpetrators into their community. This resulted in some 1,300 people reconciling with their victims and community. Although only non-serious crimes could go through this process, during the course of the reconciliation efforts it sometimes became apparent that a perpetrator may have committed a serious crime. As a result, the case became the responsibility of the prosecutor's office and serious crimes unit. To date, none of these 114 cases have been resolved.
Once the serious crimes unit completes its investigation of a case, the evidence will be handed over to Monteiro's office and he will decide whether or not to prosecute the alleged criminals. Jaimito Candido da Costa, the coordinator of the Chega! dissemination team said that he is hopeful Monteiro will bring the 114 perpetrators before justice in a timely manner.
“In late May people from the serious crimes unit came to CAVR and we provided them with information about these 114 cases,” da Costa said. “Monteiro told me the reason why many of the serious crimes cases had not yet been prosecuted was because the serious crimes unit was not operating. But now it is back up and running, the cases would be opened and investigations would begin.” Da Costa said trials would not only provide closure for the victims and the families of victims, but for the perpetrators as well.
“We have had the perpetrators come to us at CAVR and ask about their trial,” he said. “They are ready to go to trial, but they are confused why it's taken so long. They just want to know if they'll be found guilty or notthey want to be free of doubt.”
The Chega! report recommends that the serious crimes unit have its resources increased and mandate extended so that it can investigate cases from throughout the period 1975 – 1999. It also recommends investigation of a number of cases of critical importance due to the scale and nature of the human rights violations that took place. These cases include the incarceration of civilians on Atauro Island during the 1980’s and the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre.
Chega! is Portuguese for “enough” and the report details the human rights abuses which occurred in Timor Leste from 25 April 1974- 25 October 1999. The report was released in 2005.
For more information call Jaimito Candido da Costa, 723-4916 Media Team Post-CAVR Technical Secretariat (STP-CAVR)
19 June 2008
The Vatican Voices Support for Chega!
On Tuesday, 18 June, the Apostolic Nuncio to Timor-Leste, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, visited the Post CAVR Technical Secretariat (STP-CAVR) to personally view the work of CAVR and inquire about the implementation of CAVR’s recommendations. He was accompanied by the Bishop of Dili, Dom Ricardo da Silva, the Dili Diocese Vicar-General, Apollinario Guterres, and the Dili Diocese Secretary, Pastor Filomeno Jacob.
Archbishop Girelli toured the historic Comarca site in Balide where the STP-CAVR is located. “The suffering that the Timorese people experienced was extreme and warrants the attention of the Timorese government”, he stated after viewing photos about the resistance and Indonesian occupation on display in the Comarca library and CAVR archive. He also praised the work of STP-CAVR in disseminating the final CAVR report; Chega!, both within Timor and internationally.
The Catholic Church played an important role in Timor Leste during the Indonesian occupation. As Timor-Leste was closed off to the outside world, the church remained the only independent organisation within Timor-Leste which could communicate details of the human rights abuses occurring to the international community. Pope John Paul II’s visit to Dili in 1989 provided a breath of fresh air to the Timorese people. This was the first time since 1975 that a world leader had visited Timor-Leste. The Pope demonstrated solidarity with the Timorese by acknowledging their suffering and insisting on using Italian in his meetings with the Timorese clergy. This allowed the clergy to speak freely to the Pope without fear of reprisal from the Indonesian military. Both leaders of the Dili Diocese, Monsignor Martinho da Costa Lopes and Dom Carlos Belo were outspoken critics of the Indonesian regime. The awarding of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize to Bishop Belo went some way towards recognizing the church’s contribution to peace in Timor-Leste. There were also nuns and priests who died trying to protect their people.
The Papal Nuncio affirmed the Catholic Church’s commitment to seeing the CAVR recommendations implemented. He stated that the Catholic Church is ready to support the implementation of Chega!’s recommendations and urged the Timorese parliament to endorse the report.
The following day, the Norwegian Special Envoy to Timor-Leste, Bishop Gunnar Stålsett, and the Nowegian Chargee d'Affaires, Eva Tuft, visited the STP-CAVR to ask how they can support STP-CAVR’s work. The Norwegian government has already provided valuable financial support to the CAVR process and is keen to see implementation of Chega’s recommendations.
“STP-CAVR is honoured by the visit of the Papal Nuncio, the Dili Diocese representatives, Bishop Gunnart and the Norwegian Chargee d'Affaires. We deeply appreciate the support of the Catholic Church and Norwegian government and hope that we can continue to work together to further peace and reconciliation in Timor-Leste”, said the Executive Director of STP-CAVR, Agustinho Vasconselos.
Media Team Post-CAVR Technical Secretariat (STP-CAVR)
Naomi Kinsella Legal Adviser Post-CAVR Technical Secretariat (Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation) Comarca Balide, Dili, Timor-Leste (670) 730 2837