"Until there is a democratically elected Congress, UNTAET must make greater efforts to ensure the participation of interested East
Timorese groups in the law and policy making processes."
the East Timorese NGO Forum 
Meeting of the East Timorese NGO Forum with the UN Security Council Mission To East Timor

13 November 2000

1. The Fulfillment of UNTAET Mandate

According to Resolution 1272 (1999), UNTAET has a mandate to "establish an effective administration", to "assist in the development of civil and social services", to ensure coordination and delivery of development assistance and to support capacity building for self-government".

The NGO Forum asks the question:
Is UNTAET committed to the participation of East Timorese civil society or only to consultation in the performance of the mandate?
The National Council is not a democratically elected parliament.  UNTAET should not treat it as such.  Until there is a democratically elected Congress, UNTAET must make greater efforts to ensure the participation of interested East Timorese groups in the law and policy making processes. The recent budget processes in the National Council with minimal public hearings and inadequate publication of documentary materials highlights the lack of transparency in the law and policy process.  While welcoming the mandate, the NGO Forum urges UNTAET to decentralize in its attempts to fulfill its mandate.

UNTAET must be more attentive to the special security and humanitarian needs of the people of Oecusse, including the provision of communication and transport with the rest of East Timor.

AGRICULTURE
In particular, there is a need for a more coherent policy for rural reconstruction and development.  There is little transparency about who sets priorities for development.  Agriculture has been too neglected.

EDUCATION
The resources available to ETTA are so scarce that it is not possible to employ even the same number of teachers as were employed during the Indonesian time.  Many schools are still without a roof.  Children have no books, chairs or tables.

HEALTH
UNTAET has done too little to deliver humanitarian assistance especially in the health area, relying too much on simply coordinating the assistance being offered by international NGOs.  Basic health services should be delivered by government, as should all basic services necessary for the citizens in the emerging nation of East Timor.

2. Justice and Reconciliation

Under Resolution 1272 (1999), UNTAET has been "endowed with overall responsibility for the administration of East Timor", "including the administration of justice".  While the NGO Forum is very supportive of initiatives for reconciliation, the Forum insists that such initiatives are no substitute for justice.

As in other areas, the restrictions on ETTA's budget alongside the UN's seemingly limitless budget, creates serious problems.  The prosecutor for serious crimes recently announced that due to a lack of resources he had to abandon his plans to investigate the ten most serious crimes of last year and confine his attention to the four most serious crimes, namely:

Not even the Suai Church massacre is any longer on the list of serious crimes to be investigated for prosecution in the near future.  There are over 60 persons still in custody in East Timor awaiting trial for offences committed over a year ago. ETTA has not the resources and there is no binding obligation on the Government of Indonesia to surrender those in Indonesia. Without the establishment of an international tribunal there seems little prospect that the chief perpetrators and instigators will face trial.

In April 2000, UNTAET and the Republic of Indonesia concluded a memorandum of understanding regarding co-operation in legal, judicial and human rights related matters.  Though the parties agreed to transfer all persons whom the competent authorities of the requesting party are prosecuting, they further specified that "each party will have the right to refuse a request for such transfer if the carrying out of the legal proceedings by authorities of the requesting party would not be in the interests of justice".  To date, there have been no transfers and none is expected.  If ETTA lacks the resources and the international community the will to resolve even the four most serious crimes in East Timor last year, the people of East Timor deserve to be told.

The continuing delays in conducting exhumations are a serious human rights issue. We call on Security Council to require UNTAET to allocate adequate resources to completing this task expeditiously.

UNTAET's mandate stresses the importance of reconciliation. The East Timorese people also seek reconciliation between all sections of their society - but bringing the key perpetrators of war crimes to justice is an essential element of reconciliation. UNTAET is failing to carry out its mandate to "bring to justice" those responsible for war crimes if it does not provide sufficient resources to the investigation of war crimes. These war crimes took place over a year ago and the longer the investigations are delayed the less likely it is that there will ever be successful prosecutions.

Although it is accepted that some system of prioritising cases for prosecution is essential, the Special Crimes Unit needs sufficient resources to work on the many other cases that are awaiting investigation. Throughout East Timor there are local NGOs who are ready and willing to cooperate with and assist the Serious Crimes Unit. The Serious Crimes Unit has to date shown little enthusiasm for such cooperation. Many local NGOs hold information that can assist the Serious Crimes Unit.

The NGO Forum calls on the Security Council to require UNTAET to immediately reallocate substantial resources to the investigation of war crimes. Until the NGO Forum sees war crimes being appropriately investigated it does not accept that UNTAET is fulfilling its mandate to bring those responsible for war crimes to justice. Without bringing those responsible for war crimes to justice there cannot be reconciliation among the East Timorese people. If there is no transparent and workable system of justice established in East Timor, there will be no incentive to return for those militia leaders in West Timor seeking the protection of justice.

3.  The safe and rapid return of refugees to East Timor

Resolution 1272 (1999) reaffirms "the need for all parties to ensure that the rights of refugees and displaced persons, and that they are able to return voluntarily in safety and security to their homes". Resolution 1319 (2000) "calls on the Indonesian authorities to take immediate and effective measures to ensure the safe return of refugees who choose to go back to East Timor".  The NGO Forum has no desire to undermine further the power and authority of President Wahid in Indonesia.  But the enemies of President Wahid who have no respect for human rights must not be allowed to succeed in their aim of excluding all UN agencies from the camps in West Timor by the killing of the 3 UN personnel on 6 September 2000.

Presently there is no prospect of the UN or NGOs freely moving in the camps to provide objective information about the possibility of returns.  It is not even possible freely to distribute letters from families and friends in East Timor.  NGO presence and activity is possible only with the disclaimer. "We are not from UNHCR".  Prior to the September killings, it was possible for NGOs to deliver letters, information, and humanitarian aid.  Since the killings, regular letter deliveries have had to cease.  Free and open discussion about returns has had to cease.  Often humanitarian aid has to be left with camp leaders.  It cannot be delivered directly to those most in need.

The NGO Forum insists that the Security Council should take whatever action is necessary to have the GOI create conditions suitable for UNHCR's return to the camps.  In the interim, UNHCR ought be guaranteed security to make at least a monthly visit to key campsites to provide transport and security for any refugees wanting to return to East Timor.  The GOI Taskforce should be required to facilitate the exchange of information from families in East Timor to refugees in co-operation with UNHCR. ICRC should be granted access to the camps.

4. The Duration of UNTAET

Pursuant to resolution 1272 (1999), UNTAET is established "for an initial period until 31 January 2001".  Were UNTAET to act on the matters raised in this submission, the NGO Forum would welcome UNTAET's continuation for four months after the election, which hopefully will be held on or before the second anniversary of the popular consultation of 30 August 1999 - i.e. until 31 December 2001.



This paper was presented by: At: 7.00 Pm meeting with the UN Security Council delegation in Dili


NGO FORUM BRIEFING PAPER FOR United Nations SECURITY COUNCIL

13 November 2000

INADEQUATE RESOURCES FOR WAR CRIMES INVESTIGATIONS AND EXHUMATIONS

1. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1272 (1999) was adopted by the Security Council on the 25 October 1999. It establishes UNTAET's mandate.

Clause 16 states that the Security Council:

Condemns all violence and acts in support of violence in East Timor, and calls for their immediate end, and demands that those responsible for such violence be brought to justice.

2. Section 1 of UNTAET Regulation 20/15 established a panel of Judges within the Dili District Court to have exclusive jurisdiction to deal with serious criminal offences committed between 1 January 1999 and 25 October 1999, defined as:

a) Genocide
b) War crimes
c) Crimes against humanity
d) Murder
e) Sexual offences
f) Torture

These crimes are referred to in this paper collectively as "war crimes".

3. It is extremely unlikely that an East Timorese Court established pursuant to Regulation 20/15 will be able to bring the military commanders and militia leaders to justice and we endorse calls for an International Tribunal to be set up to prosecute these crimes.

4. Regardless of whether war crimes are prosecuted by an East Timorese Court, an Indonesian Court or an International Tribunal any prosecution needs to be based on evidence - and the evidence available within East Timor should be obtained without delay.

5. The Serious Crimes Unit has only been allocated the resources to investigate a very small proportion of the alleged war crimes. It is grossly understaffed and lacking anything like sufficient basic necessities as interpreters, transport and computers.

On the 20th October Mohamed Othman, the Prosecutor General, stated at a meeting with NGOs that due to lack of resources he has had to reduce the number of cases prioritised for prosecution from 10 to 4. The 4 being the known colloquially as "Carrascalou House", "Maliana Police Station", Liquica Church" and "Los Palos".

Examples of consequences of lack of resources:

Suai CivPol promised a local NGO many months ago that they would be undertaking major investigations into 2 local massacres, including the internationally publicized massacre at Suai Church. The NGO reports that they and the community is disturbed that no investigation has taken place.

Oecusse A local NGO complains that there are at least 100 bodies from 1999 still waiting to be exhumed and no exhumations have taken place for at least 5 months. One particular case involves 3 known victims who were murdered and thrown down a well, which was later capped with concrete on instructions from Interfet. Enquiries made with the Serious Crimes Unit confirm that the Oecussi serious crime investigation has been "placed on hold" for some time and the investigator reallocated to the Liquica Church investigation.

6. The continuing delays in conducting exhumations are a serious human rights issue. We call on Security Council to require UNTAET to allocate adequate resources to completing this task expeditiously.

7. UNTAET's mandate stresses the importance of reconciliation. The East Timorese people also seek reconciliation between all sections of their society - but bringing the key perpetrators of war crimes to justice is an essential element of reconciliation.

8. UNTAET is failing to carry out its mandate to "bring to justice" those responsible for war crimes if it does not provide sufficient resources to the investigation of war crimes.

9. These war crimes took place over a year ago and the longer the investigations are delayed the less likely it is that there will ever be successful prosecutions.

10. Although it is accepted that some system of prioritising cases for prosecution is essential, the Special Crimes Unit needs sufficient resources to work on the many other cases that are awaiting investigation.

11. Throughout East Timor there are local NGOs who are ready and willing to cooperate with and assist the Serious Crimes Unit. The Serious Crimes Unit has to date shown little enthusiasm for such cooperation. Many local NGOs hold information that can assist the Serious Crimes Unit.

12. The NGO Forum calls on the Security Council to require UNTAET to immediately reallocate substantial resources to the investigation of war crimes. Until the NGO Forum sees war crimes being appropriately investigated it does not accept that UNTAET is fulfilling its mandate to bring those responsible for war crimes to justice. Without bringing those responsible for war crimes to justice there cannot be reconciliation among the East Timorese people.