Indonesian Ad Hoc Human Rights Court Proven Not Able To Fulfill International Demands
On Wednesday, August 14, 2002, the Indonesian Ad Hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor sentenced Abilio Jose Osorio Soares, the former governor of East Timor, to three years' imprisonment. He was accused of involvement in crimes against humanity in East Timor, in 1999. On the following day, Thursday, August 15, the same court found five military and police officers accused of involvement in attack s on civilians at the Ave Maria Church compound in Suai not guilty. The former Police Chief of East Timor, Timbul Silaen, was also acquitted of all charges.
The outcome of these trials was no surprise to anyone. There were many strong indications that the trials would not deliver justice and uncover the truth for the people of East Timor, especially for the victims of crimes against humanity. These indications came at the beginning of the trials. The prosecution focused only on incidents that happened in April and September of 1999 which were related to the referendum, without connecting these incidents to crimes committed at other times and places. The prosecutor, being bound by Presidential Decree No. 96, 2001, missed the connections showing that similar incidents that happened in the three districts covered by the court's limited mandate together qualified as 'widespread' or 'systematic' phenomena.
In his charges, the prosecutor worked from a perspective that did not acknowledge the connection between the birth of the militia groups, who were proponents of integration with Indonesia and carried out the attacks, and the Indonesian military and security policy enforced by the Indonesian army in East Timor. This shifted the context of the incidents into a horizontal conflict between independence groups and those who were not satisfied with the results of the poll. This perspective also greatly reduced the ability of the prosecutor to use evidence of the military chain of command to demonstrate the systematic nature of the human rights abuses.
Due to the fact that the proceedings failed to maintain the international standards of just and honest trials, and seeing the urgency of establishing an international tribunal to bring forth justice to the people of East Timor, the East Timor National Alliance for International Tribunal (ANPI) hereby declares that ANPI:
1. rejects the Indonesian Ad Hoc Human Rights Court and its processes, because the court manipulated the real context of the crimes committed in East Timor before and after the poll. These problems include:
2. condemns the Indonesian government for lacking the political will to bring the perpetrators of serious crimes against humanity in East Timor to justice.
3. condemns the U.S. government for reaffirming its military cooperation with the Indonesian military and police.
4. urges the constitutional government of the Democratic Republic of East Timor to immediately reject all authority of the Indonesian Ad Hoc Human Rights Court and include efforts to establish an international tribunal for East Timor high in its foreign affairs agenda.
5. urges the powerful governments of the U.S., England, Australia, China, Japan, and Canada to immediately reject the Indonesian Ad Hoc Human Rights Court and support efforts to establish an international tribunal for East Timor.
6. urges the UN to immediately establish an international tribunal for East Timor since the Indonesian Ad Hoc Human Rights Court failed to bring the perpetrators of serious crimes against humanity in East Timor to justice, despite the fact that Indonesia has had more than two years to do so.
Basic decency and the people of East Timor both demand an international tribunal to bring the perpetrators of serious crimes against humanity in East Timor, committed both before and after the poll, to justice. Action on this matter must not be postponed any longer. All parties that cherish universal human rights must contribute wholeheartedly to the establishment of an international tribunal for East Timor. We hope justice will prevail, especially for the victims and their families, so that the rule of law, democratic process, and real development which have been longed for become a reality in the new nation of East Timor as well as in the rest of the world.
Dili, August 17, 2002
East Timor National Alliance for International Tribunal
10 Reasons Why Indonesian Courts Will Not Bring Justice to E Timor
see also Human Rights Accountability and Justice page