Dec 01, 2002

Human rights court for East Timor

UNPO News issue of May-July 2002 reported extensively on the independence of East Timor, the latter being a member of the UNPO. While sharing in the aftermath of joy and high expectations, the UNPO realises that times ahead for East Timor would be difficult and challenging.

The failure of the Indonesian government's Ad Hoc Human Rights Court for East Timor to bring to justice the perpetrators of violence in September 1999, represents one of the most depressing issues since independence.

It was hoped that the Indonesian government would fully meet its obligations and responsibilities in this regard.
Unfortunately, for Indonesia, national interests seem more important than the strengthening of a culture of human rights, essential for national reconciliation and confidence building.

The Court has convicted only two people, and has failed to hold the military accountable for the September 1999 atrocities. None of the accused senior officials have been convicted to date. Instead the Indonesian government has acted in a way, which strengthens impunity rather than justice. As such the Indonesian government has not provide a credible response obliged under international human rights law. The UNPO regards this as a serious breach of confidence, which only serve to aggravate the pain of family and relatives of those killed and tortured by the Indonesian military and paramilitary groups. It is also a missed opportunity towards confidence building between Indonesia and the new nation-state of East Timor. The UNPO will closely monitor further developments and intends to raise the issue at UN human rights bodies.