|Subject: UN Reaction to Indonesia's
Constitutional Change Barring Prosecutions
UN Reaction to Indonesia's Constitutional Change Barring Prosecutions
UN warns of Timor inquiry (AFP via The Age) NEW YORK Friday 25 August 2000
A recent amendment to the Indonesian constitution might force the United Nations to hold an international inquiry into human rights abuses in East Timor, a UN spokesman said yesterday.
Fred Eckhard said that until now the UN had believed Indonesia "would undertake a serious and credible investigation" of crimes committed before it handed the territory over to UN administration last year.
But last Friday the Indonesian national assembly amended the constitution to prevent an individual from being prosecuted under laws that did not exist when a crime was committed.
The amendment created an uproar among rights groups, which feared it would be used to prevent the prosecution of military officers for human rights violations in East Timor.
"We'll have to see what happens with this idea for an amnesty," Mr Eckhard said. "But if it were to go forward, I think that would probably force us to reconsider our position concerning the need for an international investigation of these abuses."
At the outset, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan felt that "we should let Indonesia deal with it", Mr Eckhard said.
He said Mr Annan discussed the case with Indonesian Attorney-General Marzuki Darusman when he visited Jakarta early this year.
"He was convinced that the Attorney-General, who had been previously a human rights activist in the country ... would undertake a serious and credible investigation."
Earlier this month, UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson said the UN would call for an international war crimes tribunal if Jakarta failed to bring the perpetrators of the East Timor violence to trial.
On Wednesday Mr Darusman said his office would soon name more than 30 people suspected of involvement in the violence.
Kyodo News Service August 19, 2000, Saturday
DILI, East Timor, Aug. 19 Kyodo
The U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) expressed concern Saturday that constitutional amendments passed by Indonesia's highest constitutional body could undermine efforts to bring to justice Indonesian military officials who committed atrocities in East Timor.
'What I have seen yesterday evening of course inspires concern. We believe that certain crimes cannot be prescribed, cannot be amnestied,' Sergio Vieira de Mello said in an interview with a small group of reporters.
He was reacting to the passage Friday by Indonesia's People's Consultative Assembly of a constitutional amendment that shields suspects from prosecution under retroactive laws.
Human rights lawyers said the amendment could make ineffective charges lodged against perpetrators of past human rights crimes such as those in East Timor and in the restive province of Aceh. At the same time, de Mello said he personally expects Indonesia to produce results before the end of the year on its investigation into human rights abuses in East Timor.
'Speaking personally, I would expect action before the end of the year,' he said.
De Mello said UNTAET has extended full support to the investigations being conducted by Indonesian Attorney General Marzuki Darusman, and has sought Marzuki's support in investigating cases to be tried in East Timor.
'We are now waiting to see results on both sides of the border,' he said, adding he is confident Marzuki and his colleagues 'will indict those individuals who ordered and/or carried out serious violations of human rights in East Timor, and we shall do the same in this side of the border.'
But de Mello indicated that if the results are not satisfactory, the United Nations may revert to its earlier plan to put those behind last year's campaign of violence and destruction in East Timor to an international tribunal. He said U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has decided to give Indonesia's and East Timor's new judiciaries a chance to bring to justice at the national levels those who have committed crimes in East Timor.
'But should those...in Indonesia disappoint, we might revive some of the recommendations of the report submitted by the investigative commission that was here in 1999,' he said. The report raised the possibility of convening an international tribunal.
Indonesian military officials and militia members have been linked to human rights abuses in East Timor, including a rampage of violence and destruction following the U.N.-administered referendum last Aug. 30 when East Timor turned down autonomy under Indonesia.
The violence was stopped only after international troops arrived in East Timor in September. The territory is now under UNTAET control pending its full independence, and U.N. peacekeepers are in charge of security.
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000 08:10:33 -0400 From: "John M.Miller" <email@example.com> Reply-To: "John M.Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sender: email@example.com Subject: UN: SG Spokesman on Tribunal To: firstname.lastname@example.org X-Mailer: QUALCOMM Windows Eudora Version 4.3.2 X-Sender: email@example.com
United Nations 23 August 2000 Press Briefing DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OF OFFICE OF SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL 20000823 The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today's noon briefing by Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the Secretary-General. Good afternoon.
**Questions and Answers Daily Press Briefing - 6 - 23 August 2000
Question: I've read Associated Press reports about a new law in Indonesia barring the retroactive prosecution of the army for human rights violations. How will that law affect the discussions of the criminal court that's being envisioned for East Timor?
Spokesman: When this process of the Indonesian internal review of the excesses of the military and the militia in East Timor began, the Secretary-General's position was that we should let Indonesia deal with it. When the Secretary-General visited Indonesia, he met with the Attorney General -- previously a human rights activist in the country -- and was convinced that he had good credibility and that a serious and credible investigation would be undertaken. We'll have to see what happens with this idea for amnesty. If it were to go forward, however, I think that it would probably force us to reconsider our position concerning the need for an international investigation.
Question: If I read the article correctly this isn't just an "idea", it's a law that's already been passed by the Indonesian Parliament. Spokesman: As I say, should amnesty be granted, I think that would force the United Nations to reconsider an international investigation for these abuses.
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