June 28, 2005
Contact: John M.
ETAN Supports UN Commissionís Call
for International Involvement in Justice for East Timor
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has
reportedly handed-over the report of the Commission of Experts on
justice for East Timor to the Security Council. The East Timor and
Indonesia Action Network issued the following statement:
The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
congratulates the UN's Commission of Experts (COE) for its thorough
and thoughtful report. ETAN agrees with the COE that continued
strong international involvement is essential to ensure that
impunity does not prevail for the brutal crimes of Indonesia's
security forces in East Timor in 1999. Although the COE's mandate
did not include pre-1999 crimes, we urge the international community
not to impose an arbitrary cut-off on justice for the people of East
analysis supports our own conclusions and those of objective
observers in East Timor, Indonesia and internationally that justice
has not yet been achieved. Clearly, existing mechanisms to prosecute
the organizers and perpetrators of crimes against humanity and
others have proven woefully unsatisfactory.
The COE was
appointed earlier this year by the Secretary-General to evaluate
existing judicial processes and propose next steps to hold
accountable those responsible for serious crimes in East Timor in
1999. The Commission examined the UN-initiated Serious Crimes
process in East Timor and the Indonesian government's sham Ad-hoc
Human Rights Court on East Timor. Neither process has been able to
hold any higher-level perpetrators accountable.
involvement is crucial: The crimes committed in 1999 were not only
against the people of East Timor, but against a United Nations
mission and personnel. The 1975 invasion and subsequent occupation
of East Timor violated international law and specific UN
resolutions. Crimes against humanity were committed, and all
humanity has an interest in seeing their perpetrators are brought to
justice. Both the Secretary-General and Security Council have stated
that impunity should not prevail in this case.
The truth of what happened in 1999 is well-established. We urge the
governments of East Timor and Indonesia to set aside for now their
joint Commission on Truth and Friendship (CTF) and fully cooperate
with more substantive efforts toward justice and accountability.
Currently, the CTF can recommend amnesties but not prosecutions,
which will only institutionalize impunity. Friendship between the
peoples of both nations requires justice, openness and the rule of
law; genuine justice will build security and respect for human
rights in both countries. We agree with the UN COE that no
international support should be provided to the CTF unless its
mandate is substantially altered to facilitate accountability and to
conform to both international law and the wishes of the victims.
For the past five
years, the Indonesian government has taken every opportunity to
obstruct justice. We are skeptical that Indonesia will in the near
term hold credible trials or engage cooperatively with a continued
serious crimes process in East Timor. However, should the Security
Council decide to give Jakarta a second chance, we agree with the
COE that it must be time-limited and closely monitored. Should
Indonesia again fail to hold its own accountable, the UN should move
quickly to establish an international criminal tribunal or its
The COE has provided several ways to move forward. It is now up to
the Secretary- General, the Security Council and the governments of
Timor-Leste and Indonesia to choose a path and embark on a process
toward genuine justice. The credibility of the international
community and the suffering of the victims demand no less.
summary of the report can be found at
note: the COE report has now (July 27) been officially released
by the UN.
Click here for full report.
For more information see