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Joint declaration from East Timorese civil society on Justice


"Justice Must be Given to the Victims of Serious Crimes"

"International justice is now a crucial last resort to bring justice to the victims particularly as both the Timorese and Indonesian Governments have agreed on a Truth and Friendship Commission that will not submit to a process for genuine justice and real accountability" (statement by the Bishops of Dili and Baucau, April 2005)

Neither the serious crimes process in Timor Leste nor the Ad Hoc Tribunal in Indonesia have brought to justice "those responsible for such violence". Furthermore, they have failed to provide adequate compensation to victims of the atrocities committed in 1999. In Timor Leste the Serious Crimes Unit and Special Panels for Serious Crimes mandated by UN Security Council resolution 1272 have all but closed however justice for victims has not been realised. The Ad Hoc tribunal in Indonesia was manifestly inadequate in all aspects of its operation and has allowed perpetrators to wash their hands of the blood of crimes committed in 1999 in Timor Leste.

We would like to reiterate that we do not consider the Truth and Friendship Commission, recently established by the governments of Indonesia and Timor Leste, to be an option capable of achieving justice for the victims. The terms of reference of the Truth and Friendship Commission, in particular those which purport to grant amnesties and prohibit prosecutions, are in conflict with article 160 of the Constitution of Timor Leste and with UNTAET regulation 10/2001 on the Commission of Truth and Reconciliation. Moreover, the granting of amnesties and prohibition of prosecutions contravene principles of international law.

The report of the UN Commission of Experts submitted to the Secretary General has affirmed that the processes of the Ad Hoc tribunal did not comply with international standards. The Special Panels for Serious Crimes has only managed to prosecute low ranking East Timorese while all high ranking Indonesian suspects were acquitted by the Ad Hoc tribunal in Indonesia. In Timor Leste, the Commission of Experts recommends that the Security Council ensure the continuation of the Serious Crime Unit and the Special Panels for Serious Crimes or, failing this, that an alternative national mechanism be put in place until all the investigations and prosecutions are completed. In Indonesia the Commission recommends that the Attorney General's Office reviews all the prosecutions of the Ad Hoc tribunal and reopens cases as appropriate using means available under Indonesian law. In order to do so it recommends the appointment of a team of Asian legal experts to bolster Indonesia's prosecutorial capacity.

If either Indonesia or Timor Leste fail to implement these recommendations the Commission of Experts recommends that the Security Council establish an international tribunal to prosecute unpunished crimes.

We believe that the international community is no longer willing to accept impunity for crimes against humanity, that the perpetrators of those crimes, wherever they are committed, must be brought to justice, and that this should be by fair and transparent means . Therefore, we, the undersigned here, declare that:

1. We condemn all acts that place political interests above the interests of justice and victims' demands for justice and truth.

2. We believe that the responsibility for punishing crimes against humanity committed in Timor Leste in 1999 lies with the international community.

3. We appeal to the UN Security Council to seriously consider the report and recommendations of the UN Commission of Experts, which has been submitted to the UN Secretary-General.

4. We appeal to the UN Security Council to act on the report and the recommendations of the UN Commission of Experts by establishing an international tribunal to provide justice for the victims.

5. We appeal to the leaders of the Democractic Republic of Timor Leste to ensure that justice is done and to develop this country according to legal principles enshrined in its Constitution.

6. We reject any mechanism that allows impunity to prevail and impedes the delivery of justice to victims and the people of Timor Leste.

7. We reject the Commission of Truth and Friendship as a mechanism to address the crimes against humanity committed in Timor Leste.

The undersigned are :


1. Justica e Paz


3. LBH Tane Tumor

4. Liberta

5. Clinica da Paz


7. Asosiasaun HAK


See also -

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