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Petition for International Tribunal on East
To: Groups and organisations in Solidarity
with East Timor
From: UK Groups in Solidarity with East Timor
We are circulating the
statement below for signatures in order to reiterate the call for an
international tribunal on East Timor. We plan to release the full
list of signatories together with the Statement at the time of the next
East Timor World Bank Donorís Meeting in Canberra next month.
Closing date for signatures:
11 June 2001.
Pls email: Plovers@gn.apc.org
Asia Policy Officer,
Catholic Institute for International Relations,
Unit 3, Canonbury Yard,
190a new North Road,
London N1 7BJ
Tel: 020 7288 8614 (Direct)
Tel: 020 7288 8600 (Switchboard)
Fax: 020 7359 0017
JUSTICE FOR EAST TIMOR
We are organisations with long-standing
links with the peoples of Indonesia and East Timor. We have followed events
in East Timor for many years and have sought to show support and solidarity
for our East Timorese friends in their constant search for justice and
peace. This statement arises out of our dismay at recent developments in
Indonesia and East Timor concerning the administration of justice for gross
violations of human rights committed in East Timor. The statement reflects
the views of many organisations in Indonesia and East Timor, several of
which have signed it.
The primary purpose of the statement is
to call upon the international community to set up an international tribunal
for East Timor to bring the perpetrators of gross violations to justice.
We firmly believe that timely justice and the ending of impunity are essential
for peace and reconciliation in East Timor and for democracy and stability
in Indonesia. We are convinced that credible trials will not be possible
in Indonesia and that justice will not prevail unless international mechanisms
are established without further delay.
In making the statement, we take account
of the following:
In the light of the above, we call upon the
international community to:
After the announcement by former President
Habibie of Indonesia in January 1999 that the East Timorese people would
be allowed to decide their future status, a wave of violence was unleashed
by militia groups trained and supported by the Indonesian army. Following
the overwhelming vote in favour of independence on 30 August 1999, at least
1,000 people were killed, many more were injured, up to 75 per cent. of
the population was displaced, including around 250,000 forcibly evacuated
to Indonesian West Timor, and around 80 per cent. of the infrastructure
was destroyed. In view of the systematic and planned nature of the violence,
many of the crimes committed amounted to crimes against humanity.
Crimes against humanity are crimes of universal
jurisdiction and the international community has a special responsibility
to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice. It has an additional
moral responsibility in relation to the 1999 crimes since many of them
were committed when the UN was administering the 'popular consultation'
or after it had abandoned the territory despite promises that it would
stay after the vote.
Many other gross violations of human rights,
including mass murder, were committed in East Timor in the period following
Indonesia's illegal invasion in 1975. Around 200,000 people - approximately
one-third of the pre-invasion population - lost their lives. The international
community also has a responsibility to investigate the atrocities committed
during that period.
The report of the International Commission
of Inquiry (ICI) on East Timor presented to the UN Security Council on
31 January 2000 (S/2000/59) cited evidence of "a pattern of serious violations
of fundamental human rights" in relation to the 1999 crimes and recommended
the establishment of an international tribunal for East Timor. It expressed
"the view that ultimately the Indonesian Army was responsible for the intimidation,
terror, killings, and other acts of violenceÖ"
At the same time, the Indonesian Commission
for Human Rights Violations in East Timor (KPP-HAM) issued a report which
confirmed military involvement in and responsibility for crimes against
humanity. It named as suspects 32 military and civilian personnel, including
Major Generals Zacky Anwar MaKarim and Adam Damiri and militia leader Eurico
Guterres. It also stated that overall responsibility for the crimes committed
lay with armed forces commander in chief, General Wiranto.
In response to the ICI report, the UN Security
Council stated on 18 February 2000 that the perpetrators should be brought
to justice "as soon as possible" and that Indonesia should "institute a
swift, comprehensive, effective and transparent legal process, in conformity
with international standards of justice and due process of law. An earlier
report by the three UN special rapporteurs on extrajudicial, summary or
arbitrary executions, torture and violence against women published in December
1999 recommended the establishment of an international tribunal if the
Indonesian process was not completed in "a matter of months".
There are overwhelming political and legal
obstacles in the way of meaningful trials in Indonesia. Many of those
obstacles have been introduced since Indonesia committed itself to bring
the perpetrators to justice before its own courts. It is evident that
the Indonesian authorities are neither willing nor able to administer meaningful
justice in relation to the East Timor crimes. The international community's
decision to allow Indonesia time to try the perpetrators has not worked
and the international community's inaction can no longer be justified.
In August 2000, the Indonesian supreme legislative
assembly provided defendants with an absolute defence to charges relating
to the East Timor crimes by enacting a Constitutional amendment which introduced
the principle of non-retroactivity into Indonesian law. Suspects would
also appear to have a defence based on the Attorney General's failure to
bring the cases to trial before a deadline set out in Indonesia's Law on
Human Rights Courts. That Law is in itself flawed and falls short of international
standards, particularly those relating to judicial independence and impartiality.
It is widely acknowledged by those in the best position to know that very
few current judges can be regarded as independent and untainted by judicial
corruption. Procedural and institutional safeguards for the rights of defendants
fall far short of accepted human rights standards and there is no adequate
witness protection programme for traumatised victims and witnesses.
In November 2000, the Indonesian Attorney
General, Marzuki Darusman, stated that 22 suspects implicated in crimes
against humanity in East Timor would be tried in January. That has not
happened. The suspects included Eurico Guterres and Major-General Adam
Damiri, but significantly did not include other high-ranking officers,
such as Major-General Zacky Anwar and General Wiranto, who were identified
by Indonesia's KPP-HAM report as being responsible for the violence.
In April 2001, President Wahid issued a Presidential
decree establishing a human rights court for East Timor, but limited its
jurisdiction to crimes committed after the August 1999 vote. This means
that many crimes committed before the vote including two of the worst atrocities
- at Liquica Church on 6 April 1999 when more than 50 were killed and at
the house of independence leader Manuel Carrascalao in Dili on 17 April
1999 when at least 12 were killed - will go unpunished in Indonesia. Much
of the evidence of the systematic nature of the violence will remain suppressed.
Moreover, the Indonesian armyís organisation of militia forces in preparation
for the 'popular consultation', which began in the early part of 1999,
will not fall within the courtís remit.
The Presidential decree was issued within
days of Indonesia agreeing to a statement at the UN Commission on Human
Rights which committed it to ensure accountability for crimes committed
in East Timor during the whole of 1999.
Indonesia's inability and unwillingness to
administer credible justice in relation to gross violations of human rights
was demonstrated by the outcome in May 2001 of proceedings against those
accused of involvement in the killing of three employees of the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees in Atambua, West Timor in September 2000. The
six accused were not charged with murder or manslaughter, but with lesser
offences. As a result, their sentences ranged from only 10 to 20 months
Despite the signing of a memorandum of understanding
on legal co-operation by the Indonesian Government and UNTAET in April
2000, the Indonesian authorities have refused to co-operate. On several
occasions, UNTAET investigators have been refused access to witnesses they
have travelled to Jakarta to interview. Indonesia's unwillingness to take
action against military suspects is evident from its failure to suspend
them from duty. Some of the suspects have instead been promoted, including
Adam Damiri, who is now responsible for controversial troop deployments
to Aceh. Militia suspects, notably Eurico Guterres, are regarded by many
in Indonesia as national heroes. Guterres was convicted of a weapons offence
in April 2001, but received a sentence of just six months imprisonment,
which he is serving under house arrest.
The judicial system in East Timor has also
failed to deliver justice to date. Investigations by the Serious Crimes
Investigation Unit (SCIU) of UNTAET have been unacceptably slow. The SCIU
initially concentrated on a select few cases and major atrocities, such
as that committed at the Suai church compound on 6 September 1999 when
dozens were murdered, have not been properly investigated. There are persistent
reports that the SCIU's work is severely hampered by problems relating
to a lack of resources, management conflicts, poor communications, the
lack of clear policy guidelines, and a reluctance to expose the systematic
nature of the 1999 violence. There are also allegations of political interference
in the judicial process.
The absence of credible justice in East and
West Timor is seriously undermining attempts to repatriate those among
the 100,000 or so refugees remaining in West Timor who wish to return home.
The failure to prosecute those responsible for serious crimes helps to
fuel an environment in which intimidation is widespread, humanitarian assistance
is severely hampered and refugees are unable to make free and informed
decisions about where they wish to live.
Press the UN Security Council to take immediate
steps to set up an international tribunal to bring to justice Indonesian
military officers and others responsible for gross violations of human
rights in East Timor whenever they were committed.
Ensure that UNTAET makes the necessary structural
and management changes to the SCIU and that it allocates sufficient resources
and personnel to the Unit so that it is able to conduct credible investigations
and prosecutions which take into account the systematic and planned nature
of the violence.
Press the UN to provide greater professional
and financial support to inexperienced East Timor judges, prosecutors and
Make a commitment to support and provide resources
for serious crimes investigations in East Timor after the current UNTAET
This statement is endorsed
by the following organisations:
Pls email: Plovers@gn.apc.org
Closing date for signatures:
11 June 2001.
for International War Crimes Tribunal - A collection
of recent reports, articles and news
War Crimes & Crimes Against Humanity - A collection of recent press
releases, petitions, articles and news
'Refugees' & Missing Persons - A collection
of recent information, reports, articles and news
DOOR Newsletter on East Timor homeMay
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