BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home    June news

"The legal and institutional framework for investigating and prosecuting serious crimes was introduced by UNTAET. Jurisdiction over serious crimes under international law including war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and sexual offences was established. A Special Crimes Unit was established to investigate the massive human rights violations which were perpetrated by pro-Indonesian militia and the Indonesian security forces in 1999. However, lack of support and resources contributed to the slow pace of investigations. ... by the end of 2000 no one had been brought to justice for crimes committed during 1999." Amnesty International
See also: BD: War Crimes & Crimes Against Humanity - A collection of recent press releases, petitions, articles and news


 

Amnesty International

Report 2001

Covering events from January - December 2000

EAST TIMOR

East Timor
Capital: Dili
Population: 0.8 million
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes

The legacy of the massive human rights violations and widespread destruction of infrastructure and property by the Indonesian security forces and pro-Indonesian militia in September 1999 continued to impact heavily on East Timor. Under the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), the process of reconstruction and the establishment of institutions of government and administration proceeded, although delays in some areas contributed to the emergence of new human rights problems. A Special Crimes Unit was established to investigate the hundreds of extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations which took place during 1999. However, progress was slow and although some suspects were indicted, trials had not begun by the end of 2000. Approximately 174,000 East Timorese who fled or who had been forcibly expelled in September 1999 returned to East Timor, although some 100,000 remained in West Timor, Indonesia.

UNTAET Basic structures of government and administration were established during the year. UNTAET responded to criticism of lack of East Timorese participation in government with a number of measures including the appointment of a joint UNTAET/East Timorese Cabinet and an extension of the legislative body, the National Council, from 15 to 36 members. However, there continued to be concern about insufficient direct participation and consultation with the East Timorese in decision-making, including decisions on new legislation and institutions.

An Ombudsperson with responsibility for investigating complaints against UNTAET officials was appointed, but legislation had not been passed by the end of 2000 and the institution was not operational, giving rise to criticism regarding a lack of accountability for UN officials.

Criminal justice system Providing access to a fair legal system was recognized as a priority by UNTAET, but progress in establishing a fully functioning criminal justice system was patchy. During 2000, the first East Timorese judges and prosecutors were recruited and received training.  Provision was made for four District Courts to be set up, but they were not functioning fully by the end of 2000.

Responsibility for law enforcement lay with the UN Civilian Police (Civpol) Force. A police training academy was opened in March to train a local East Timorese police force to replace Civpol eventually. By the end of 2000, about 100 East Timorese police officers had completed the 12-week training course. A program to refurbish prison facilities was under way and three facilities with a joint capacity of 460 inmates were open by the end of 2000.

Indonesian law, when it conformed with international standards, remained applicable. A new Code of Criminal Procedure was adopted in September but the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code continued to be applied when provisions in the new Code proved inadequate.

A lack of resources, facilities and trained police and judicial officials contributed to the appearance of new human rights problems. In particular, the partial law and order vacuum led to the emergence of vigilante groups which were in some cases associated with political parties. There were cases of unauthorized detentions, beatings and intimidation of individuals suspected of belonging to pro-Indonesian militias. Relatives of militia members were also harassed and intimidated and, in at least one case, tortured. Returning refugees and members of minority groups such as Muslims or ethnic Chinese were at particular risk. Human rights defenders who publicly criticized the activities of vigilante groups were threatened and harassed.

The lack of capacity of the judicial system to process cases expeditiously gave rise to the risk that the right to fair trial might be contravened, including the right to be tried within a reasonable time or be released. In some cases detainees did not have access to public defenders for weeks after their arrest. In other cases the rights of detainees were contravened because of confusion regarding arrest and detention procedures.

Investigations into past violations The legal and institutional framework for investigating and prosecuting serious crimes was introduced by UNTAET.  Jurisdiction over serious crimes under international law including war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and sexual offences was established. A Special Crimes Unit was established to investigate the massive human rights violations which were perpetrated by pro-Indonesian militia and the Indonesian security forces in 1999. However, lack of support and resources contributed to the slow pace of investigations. Only five cases were actively investigated by the Special Crimes Unit. Twelve indictments were issued in relation to these cases in November and December, but by the end of 2000 no one had been brought to justice for crimes committed during 1999.

Some of those charged had been detained for over a year without trial, raising concerns about prolonged periods of pre-trial detention. Suspects in other cases had to be released because lack of capacity prevented the Special Crimes Unit from actively pursuing investigations into their cases.

On the basis of a Memorandum of Understanding on legal cooperation signed with Indonesia in April, UNTAET provided assistance to Indonesia in its investigations into crimes committed in East Timor during 1999. Members of an Indonesian investigation team visited East Timor in July 2000 to collect evidence on five cases. (See Indonesia entry.) A request to Indonesia by UNTAET for the extradition of a militia leader detained in Indonesia was turned down.

AI country report and visit

Report
East Timor: Building a new country based on human rights (AI Index: ASA 57/005/2000)
http://web.amnesty.org/ai.nsf/Index/ASA570052000?OpenDocument&of=COUNTRIES\EAST+TIMOR

http://www.web.amnesty.org/web/ar2001.nsf/webasacountries/EAST+TIMOR?OpenDocument

Visit
An AI delegation visited East Timor in April and met representatives of UNTAET and East Timorese human rights organizations.

see also Indonesia chapter
http://web.amnesty.org/web/ar2001.nsf/webasacountries/INDONESIA?OpenDocument


Amnesty International  Updated June 21
AI is a worldwide campaigning movement that works to promote all the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international standards. AI campaigns to free all prisoners of conscience; ensure fair and prompt trials for political prisoners; abolish the death penalty, torture and other cruel treatment of prisoners; end political killings and "disappearances"; and oppose human rights abuses by opposition groups. AI has around a million members and supporters in 162 countries. Activities include public demonstrations, letter-writing, human rights education, concerts, individual appeals and global campaigns on a particular issue.
Email: hello@amnesty.org.au  Homepages: http://www.amnesty.org.au/http://www.amnesty.org  Indonesia Web-page: http://web.amnesty.org/web/ar2001.nsf/webasacountries/INDONESIA?OpenDocument  ETimor Web-page: http://web.amnesty.org/ai.nsf/Index/ASA570052000?OpenDocument&of=COUNTRIES\EAST+TIMOR


See also:
BD: War Crimes & Crimes Against Humanity - A collection of recent press releases, petitions, articles and news


BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home    June news
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