As Security Council Travels to East Timor, Rights Groups Call For Justice and Accountability

. John M. Miller (ETAN), New York +1/917-690-4391;
. Yasinta Lujina (Lao Hamutuk), Dili +670/723-4339;
. Rafendi Djamin, Coordinator, (Human
Rights Working Group), Jakarta, +62/81311442159;
. Dr Clinton Fernandes, (Australian
Coalition for Transitional Justice in East
Timor), Canberra , +61/2 6268 8847;
. Paul Barber (TAPOL), Britain, +44/1420
80153; +44/774 730 1739;

An open letter from a worldwide coalition of
human rights organizations has called on the UN
Security Council to act for substantive justice
for the East Timorese people, as a council
delegation travels to Timor-Leste. The East
Timorese suffered countless war crimes and crimes
against humanity during the Indonesian military’s
illegal occupation. The letter rejects the
Indonesian government’s attempts to escape accountability.

The letter is signed by representatives of more
than 60 organizations from 15 countries, who call
on the Security Council “to act forcefully for
justice for the people of Timor-Leste,” by
implementing the relevant recommendations
of East Timor’s Reception, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CAVR).

The letter applauds the UN Secretary-General’s
decision not to give legitimacy to the bilateral
Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF), unless
its terms of reference are substantially changed.
The CTF and Indonesia’s Ad Hoc Human Rights Court
“have proven manifestly unsuitable in both design
and implementation to the task of delivering
justice in accordance with international law,”
the letter states. Instead, the council should
create an international criminal tribunal or
fully reconstitute the Serious Crimes process
with sufficient resources and international
backing to investigate crimes committed during
the 24-year occupation, not just in 1999. A total
of 290 individuals already indicted under the
Serious Crimes process remain at large in
Indonesia, outside the jurisdiction of courts in Timor-Leste.

The letter says that the recent inquest into the
killing of journalists in Balibo, East Timor, in
1975 is the only recent formal investigation into
the many crimes committed in East Timor before 1999.

The letter notes that there is widespread support
for substantive justice within Timor-Leste,
especially by the Church and civil society and
insists that the international community, as
embodied in the United Nations, must be involved
in addressing crimes which violated international
criminal law, the UN charter, and Security Council resolutions.

The letter is timed to coincide with the official
visit of the UN Security Council’s mission to
take place the last week in November 2007.

“An international norm has crystallized against
impunity”, said Dr Clinton Fernandes of the
Australian Coalition for Transitional Justice in
East Timor, a signer. “The UN Security Council
must reinforce this norm by ensuring that those
bearing responsibility for war crimes and crimes
against humanity are brought to justice.”

Signers include human rights groups from
Indonesia, Timor-Leste, elsewhere in Asia,
Australia, New Zealand, United States, and
Europe. The full text of the letter in English
and Bahasa Indonesia with a complete list of
signers can be found at

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