etmnlong.gif (2291 bytes) spacer For Immediate Release

Contact: John M. Miller, 718-5967668; mobile: 917-690-4391, john@etan.org 

East Timor Action Network Criticizes U.S. Stance on International Court

Urges Bush Administration Not to Hold International Peacekeeping Hostage to Efforts to Undermine Criminal Court

July 12, 2002 -- The East Timor Action Network/U.S. (ETAN) today urged the UN Security Council to resist U.S. demands for special exemptions to the International Criminal Court (ICC). ETAN also called on the U.S. to cease holding UN peacekeeping missions hostage to its campaign to undermine the court.

“We urge the United Nations Security Council and the United States to uphold a single standard of justice. No one should be above the law,” said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN. "The Bush administration says that it supports international justice and opposes abuse of human rights. The U.S. can demonstrate this commitment is not merely rhetoric by ending its efforts to undermine the new court."

"The history of East Timor demonstrates why a single standard of justice and strong enforcement mechanisms are necessary. The ICC is designed to deter and prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide of the nature committed by the Indonesian military during decades of occupation in East Timor,” continued Miller. “Instead, the Bush administration -- as part of its campaign to place itself above the law -- has chosen to make an example of the peacekeeping operation in East Timor by withdrawing its three UN military observers."

"The people of East Timor widely credit the UN peacekeeping operation with giving them a sense of security," said Miller. "The U.S. government must not jeopardize current or future peacekeeping missions by withholding funds, their support in the UN Security Council, or by withdrawing U.S. personnel."

A recent statement by East Timorese and Asian NGOs supporting the ICC affirmed "that human rights is a matter of international responsibility and accountability" and called "on the international community to strengthen its resolve to pursue justice where justice is due and work for peace through the rule of law." The government of the newly-independent country plans to join the court soon.

The NGOs went on to urge the Bush administration to reconsider its stance on the ICC, saying, "It will do humankind a great deal of service if the U.S.A. joins the international community in the establishment of the first permanent and independent international criminal court."

The Bush administration has said that it prefers ad hoc tribunals to a permanent court. But in the case of East Timor, the administration has remained silent on the need for an international tribunal.

"The ICC is an important deterrent, but serious past crimes must not be ignored," said Miller. "The ad hoc court now hearing cases against some mid-level Indonesian military officers and East Timorese in Jakarta is a sham. Its jurisdiction is too limited, its indictments badly drawn, and powerful military figures sit in the courtroom to intimidate the judges. Indonesia's refusal to extradite any suspects to East Timor means that authorities there can not prosecute them."

The Security Council is currently debating a U.S. proposal to restrict ICC jurisdiction over some participants in the UN peacekeeping operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Last May, the Council rejected a similar U.S. proposal to exempt from the ICC's jurisdiction peacekeepers in the post-independence UN Mission in East Timor (UNMISET). In the end, the U.S. voted to establish the mission.

For more than a decade, the East Timor Action Network/U.S. (ETAN) has supported self-determination and human rights for East Timor. It continues to work in support of human dignity for the people of East Timor by advocating for democracy, sustainable development, social, legal, and economic justice and human rights, including women's rights.


see additional background on East Timor and ICC

see also International Criminal Court Coalition



make a pledge via credit card here

Bookmark and Share

Background | Take Action | News | Links | What You Can Do | Resources  | Contact

ETAN Store | Estafeta | ImagesHome | Timor Postings | Search | Site Index |