Subject: LUSA: UN Officials Dismiss Amnesty's Critical Report as 'Exaggeration'

Amnesty International's report: "Justice past, present and future" is available on their web site at http://web.amnesty.org/ai.nsf/Index/ASA570012001

30 Jul 01 13:49 East Timor: UN Officials Dismiss Amnesty's Critical Report as 'Exaggeration'

UN transition administration officials acknowledged Monday that issues of justice and human rights in East Timor remain a problem but dismissed a negative Amnesty International report as "exaggerated".

Several UNTAET officials, contacted by Lusa in Dili, classed the AI report released Friday as "vague" and "partially ambiguous", saying it almost appeared to be "a request for employment" by the prestigious rights group.

Among other findings, the lengthy AI report said that justice and human rights were not yet guaranteed in the territory, appealing to the UN to rectify errors and assure compliance with internationally recognized norms.

Addressing one of AI's concerns, Gita Welch, justice minister in the transitional cabinet, downplayed the significance of "political interference" in the judicial process.

"I don't think there's much basis for saying this", Welch, a Mozambican, told Lusa. "What's important is knowing to what point prosecutors, judges and defense lawyers respond or not to such pressures".

Portuguese judge Luis Antero, Welch's aide, said the AI report was premature.

"We are setting up a (justice) system, and one can't expect perfection in one year. Of importance is the creation of conditions so the system may consolidate in the future", Antero said.

SAS -Lusa-

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