Subject: Lusa: Amnesty proposal aims for free, 'national debate' ­ PM Alkatiri

22-07-2002 12:46:00. Notícia nº 3923422 Temas:

East Timor: Amnesty proposal aims for free, 'national debate' ­ PM Alkatiri

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has rejected domestic and international criticism of a government amnesty and sentence reduction bill under discussion in the East Timorese legislature, saying the proposal aimed precisely to encourage "national debate".

Alkatiri, in comments to Lusa in Dili Friday, also said his ruling Fretilin party would not impose partisan discipline over the issue in parliament, permitting lawmakers to vote "their conscience".

"If there is an issue that deserves national debate it is this, because it touches the family nucleus", Alkatiri said of the controversial proposal.

Foreign critics should "shut up" and "not try to influence the national debate", he added, saying he was "not worried by the criticism".

The amnesty and sentence reduction bill for certain offences, excluding crimes of blood, was proposed as a compromise between the tougher government stance and the more forgiving position of President Xanana Gusmao, according to officials.

The bill has been criticized at home and abroad, including by US- based Human Rights Watch, for allegedly hobbling justice in East Timor's search for reconciliation between adversaries in the quarter- century struggle for independence from Indonesian occupation.

SAS/ASP -Lusa-

see also:
JSMP: Comments to the draft Amnesty legislation (MSWord)
HRW:  East Timor Amnesty Bill Flawed: Perpetrators of War Crimes May Escape Prosecution

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