UN Must Not Shortchange
Justice for East Timor
For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller,
May 14, 2004 - The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) urged
that today's extension of the United
Nations mission in East Timor not be the last word on justice for
serious crimes in East Timor.
"Justice for East Timor must not be shortchanged. Doing so
threatens to destabilize East Timor, as well as current and future
UN missions," said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN. “Real
accountability for East Timor would provide important momentum to
end the Indonesian military’s ongoing human rights violations.”
"Justice must be allowed to take its full course. East Timorese
victims should not pay the price for false starts and delays that
are largely the result of UN decisions and Indonesia's
non-cooperation," added Miller. "Unfortunately, the Security Council
has done nothing to further pressure Indonesia on justice."
Security Council action downsizing the UN Mission of
Support in East Timor (UNMISET) calls for a shift in resources in
the Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) from investigations to trials and
appeals. Some on the council have called for all UN-funded work on
serious crimes to end by May 20, 2005,
at the latest.
"We are especially disappointed by U.S. government pressure to
end the UN's work on serious crimes. Artificial deadlines won’t end
impunity," said Miller. The U.S.
had argued for an even more rapid phasing
out of the UN's support for serous crimes investigations and
"Instead of seeking justice on the cheap, the U.S. must work with
the UN Security Council to establish an international tribunal for
East Timor. Only a tribunal would have the resources and political
weight to properly try and punish those responsible for genocide and
other grave crimes," said Miller.
Remarks by Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda
dismissing the recent arrest warrant issued against General Wiranto
highlight Indonesia's refusal to cooperate with the serious crimes
process. More than two-thirds of those indicted in East Timor remain
at large in Indonesia.
"Indonesian security forces committed countless crimes against
humanity as Indonesia defied multiple UN resolutions since 1975 and,
in 1999, sought to undermine a UN operation," said Miller
ETAN works with civil society in East Timor and Indonesia in
calling for an international tribunal to prosecute crimes against
humanity that took place in East Timor since 1975 (see
Rights & Justice page).
Earlier this month, the
Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP), an East Timorese
NGO, reported, "If investigations end now it will leave 700 murders
and thousands of victims of rape, torture and other crimes against
humanity without justice in East Timor." JSMP’s research has found
tension exists in communities causing
serious concerns about people taking matters into their own hands if
they feel that the courts have failed
April 29, 2004 report to the Security Council, the Secretary
General wrote, "In its resolution 1410 (2002), the Security Council
stressed the critical importance of cooperation between Indonesia
and Timor-Leste, and with UNMISET, to ensure that those responsible
for serious crimes committed in 1999 are brought to justice." The
has filed 83 indictments accusing 373 individuals. Charges are
currently pending against a total of 313 accused. 279 of these
remain at large in Indonesia, including 37 Indonesian military (TNI)
commanders and officers, four Indonesian chiefs of police, 60 East
Timorese TNI officers and soldiers, the former governor of East
Timor and 5 former district administrators.
On May 10, an international judge at the Special Panel for
Serious Crimes in East Timor issued an
arrest warrant for
Wiranto, the Armed Forces Commander and Defense Minister in 1999
and now a leading presidential candidate. Prior to and after East
Timor's overwhelming vote for independence, his troops and their
militia proxies conducted a campaign of terror resulting in more
than 1400 deaths, displacement of three-quarters of the population
and destruction of more than 75% of East Timor's infrastructure.
Wiranto was indicted on February 24, 2003, for crimes against
humanity before the Special Panel, a joint UN-East Timorese court.
Soon after, the U.S. State Department placed Wiranto on its visa