Victims Congress in Dili: No Amnesty for Human Rights Crimes


2 September 2009

Dili, 2 set (AP) – The idea of a general amnesty for crimes committed
between 1974 and 1999, launched by East Timorese President
Ramos-Horta, was hotly debated in Congress of the network of victims
of human rights violations in East Timor.

The congress which is meeting in the capital, Dili, is being attended
by one hundred and fifty delegates, will run until Friday, and comes
just days after the East Timorese president has advocated for the
adoption of a general amnesty.

The spokesman of the organizing committee, Elio Saldanha, told Lusa
that the first national congress of the victims want their rights to
be safeguarded.

“The purpose of this meeting is to present their ideas and demands,
and seek to protect and safeguard the rights of victims to truth,
justice and reparations,” said Saldanha.

The congress is sponsored by various non government organizations,
including the “November 12 Committee”, formed by survivors of the
massacre at Santa Cruz, and is being attended by a delegation of
Indonesian victims from the time of the Suharto dictatorship.

Moreover, representatives from various districts participated, chosen
at local gatherings of victims and their families, brought about since
March by the forum for non-government organizations FONGTIL.

The network aims to protect victims’ interests and views in the
national discussion with the intention of expanding the possible
solutions for outstanding issues relating to justice, reconciliation
and compensation.

On the first day of work, the Congress had as guest speakers Aniceto
Guterres, Frentlin MP and member of the Commission of Truth and
Friendship (CTF), Lois Garcia, of Integrated Mission in East Timor
United Nations (UNMIT) and Marek Michon, Head of the Serious Crimes
Investigation (SCIT) of that mission.


Numerous participants criticized the idea of a general amnesty for the
crimes they suffered, and the predominant view was synthesized by

“Crimes against humanity can not go unpunished, so we do not accept
that they are capable of being amnestied,” he said.

Most of the congress participants come from the districts, and they
support the establishment of a tribunal to try serious crimes that
occurred in the country, basing their demands on the Constitution of
East Timor.

According to Saldanha, “the President’s thinking breaches the 2002
Constitution, which stipulates in Article 160 that crimes against
humanity, genocide and war crimes must be prosecuted in national and
international courts.”

“The justice that we claim is not intended to revive hatred or
revenge, but to educate future generations of this nation and prevent
future violations of human rights,” he added.

“We believe it will be useful to promote justice and peace, and to
conflict prevention, ensuring respect for the rule of law, as a
condition for peace,” he said.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s