Selected postings from east-timor (reg.easttimor)

Subject: CONG: House to Sec. Powell re: justice for Timor

Congress of the United States Washington, DC 20515

April 10, 2003

The Honorable Colin Powell Secretary U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Powell:

In light of the 59th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), we write to you concerning justice for crimes against humanity committed against the people of East Timor. Alleged perpetrators of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide remain free in Indonesia. We recognize that these suspected war criminals committed these horrible acts during the prior Administration and we believe it is essential that their crimes be punished in proportion to the serious nature of the offenses. Unfortunately, experience thus far has shown that the two judicial mechanisms in place to bring them to justice have largely failed.

The Indonesian ad hoc Human Rights Court on East Timor has not even come close to meeting its original stated objectives, and the opportunity to secure justice is being squandered. The court has acquitted eleven of fourteen Indonesian defendants thus far. Even if the prosecution had met international standards, which it did not, the court’s limited mandate, failure to prosecute top officials, and numerous other significant shortcomings would have prevented delivery of meaningful justice. Indeed, the court has failed to meet Indonesia’s own legal standards: four out of five sentences imposed have been less than the legal minimum. It is therefore imperative that the U.S. delegation to the UNCHR press for a formal, comprehensive UN review of the Jakarta court process.

In East Timor, the UN Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) and Special Panels are handicapped by a lack of resources and by Indonesia’s refusal to extradite suspects. The Indonesian government and military have steadfastly refused to cooperate with the SCU.

It is essential that the U.S. government support an alternative that can achieve real justice. In early 2000, the U.S. said it would give Indonesia a chance to credibly prosecute its own for atrocities committed in East Timor. Indonesian authorities have wasted that opportunity. We thus urge the U.S. delegation to the UNCHR to push for an international ad hoc tribunal on East Timor as the only remaining option for real justice. The Commission members should seriously consider recommending the creation of an international court.

Finally, we urge you to utilize all bilateral and multilateral resources at your disposal to press the Indonesian government to extradite those suspects indicted by the SCU who reside in Indonesia, including senior Indonesian military personnel. The arrogant and dismissive responses thus far issued by Indonesian officials to the SCU indictments must be condemned and the extradition requests must be taken seriously.

When the TNI and other TNI-supported paramilitary elements come to believe they can act with impunity and without any consequences, it is an open invitation for them to commit future atrocities. Already, American citizens are dead because of the atmosphere of impunity that reigns in Indonesia.

We deeply appreciate your administration’s demonstrated support for a successful East Timor. Like you, we believe that peace and prosperity in the new nation will depend on a thorough and honest accounting of the tragic past. The East Timorese people, victims of the most serious crimes by the Indonesian military and its militia proxies from 1975 to 1999, rightfully expect the United States and other members of the international community to hold accountable the murderers, rapists, and architects of terror in East Timor.

Unfortunately, attacks and murders are still being carried out by militias based in Indonesia against East Timor today. Serious pursuit of justice for East Timor will help deter attacks and enhance efforts to strengthen democracy and rule-of-law in both East Timor and Indonesia, thus providing long term benefits for the people of both nations.

We thank you for your consideration, your hard work on behalf of human rights, and we look forward to a prompt response.


Patrick J. Kennedy

Christopher H. Smith

Frank Wolf

Tom Lantos

Barbara Lee

Barney Frank

Peter A. DeFazio

James L. Oberstar

Tammy Baldwin

Eleanor Holmes Norton

James R. Langevin

Lloyd Doggett

James P. McGovern

Robert E. Andrews

Sam Farr

Henry A. Waxman

Maurice D. Hinchey

Anthony D. Weiner

Robert Wexler

Zoe Lofgren

Ellen O. Tauscher

Madeleine Z. Bordallo

Michael E. Capuano

Lane Evans

Edolphus Towns

Raul M. Grijalva

Sherrod Brown

William D. Delahunt

Joseph M. Hoeffel

Pete Stark

Rosa L. DeLauro

Michael R. McNulty

Betty McCollum

Dale E. Kildee

John F. Tierney

Julia Carson

Carolyn B. Maloney

Nancy Pelosi

Ron Kind

Nita M. Lowey

Michael M. Honda

Janice D. Schakowsky

Bernard Sanders

Lynn C. Woolsey

Dennis J. Kucinich

Danny K. Davis

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