Subject: NGO Forum Statement to NC And UNTAET

NGO Forum of East Timor

Statement to the National Council and the Transitional Government UNTAET/ETTA

The National NGO Forum of East Timor is seriously concerned with the decision-making processes in the National Council (NC) of East Timor. The decision regarding the East Timor Defence Force (ETDF), in which the National Council did not have enough time to study the regulation and consult with the communities and groups that they represent, is disturbing.

On 29 January 2001, the NC adopted a two-month regulation regarding the formation of the ETDF. The discussion held that day should have been comprehensive and serious because the draft concerned was very important in that it related to the future of the ETDF, however UNTAET put pressure on the NC to adopt the regulation in a very short period of time. On that day, 29 January, the NC was forced to agree to the adoption of the regulation so that the timetable for the dissolving of Falintil and the formation of the ETDF could proceed. We believe that many members of the National Council feel that one-day was not sufficient to discuss the regulation. A compromise was finally reached when the regulation was adopted for a period of two months only. Only 16 members of the NC are believed to have been present when the decision was taken.

The adoption of regulations such as that on the formation of the ETDF has serious consequences for the future of East Timor. The NC should not be forced to consider, discuss and adopt regulations such as this in one day. We are very surprised as to why a regulation such as this one about an issue, which is very important for a new, emerging country, appears to be only a temporary regulation.

UNTAET and ETTA should give enough time for the NC to study and discuss draft regulations such as this one before they make a decision.

The NGO Forum also believes that there is a need, as soon as possible, for facilities for NC members so that they can carry out their tasks as people's representatives in the NC during the transition period in East Timor.

We are very worried with the development in the NC where many decisions are taken which are not debated and where there is not broad consultation with the people of East Timor because the NC members are not given enough time and they do not have the facilities and funding to carry out their activities.

Many people, particularly those living in villages in East Timor, do not yet feel that their voices are being represented in the NC sessions, because the members of the NC, in particular those from the districts, have not received assistance with facilities or sufficient funding which enables them to carry out consultation with the communities that they represent.

Because of this, we urge UNTAET/ETTA to:

 As soon as possible provide assistance with facilities and sufficient funding to all members of the NC including those from the districts to that they can carry out their tasks according to the regulation establishing the NC;  Give full acknowledgement to the NC through hearing what they want, rather than using them as a tool to pass NC regulations;  Stop pressuring the NC to take decisions so quickly. We are now in the phase of developing a new country where we need serious and full consideration of the decisions that we are taking, because these have implications far into the future.

We are also disappointed that only 16 members of the NC were present during the NC debate on the formation of the East Timor Defence Force. We would like to urge NC members to be always active in debates that raise matters concerning the future of East Timor. The people of East Timor want to see that members of the NC are those that can represent the aspirations of the people. National NGOs under the NGO Forum want to support an East Timorese NC which is capable and which is responsible to the people of East Timor for all decisions that are taken at the NC.

With this we would like to urge the NC to:

 Independently demonstrate a serious attitude in the decision-making process for every policy and regulation which concerns the future of East Timor;  Be responsible to the people of East Timor by demonstrating to them an active role in the process of decision-making for the future of East Timor.

This statement we make with the hope that UNTAET/ETTA and the NC will all fulfill their responsibilities.

This statement we agree to and sign under the East Timor NGO Forum starting from the 31 January 2001.

For further information, please contact the NGO Forum on mobile numbers 0418 200 697 or landline number 03 332 773.

NGO Forum of East Timor

Please sign the enclosed statement to the NC and UNTAET/ETTA Release on 31 January 2001, Five National NGOs had sign the statement. 

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