Subject: NZPA: East Timor Rushed Into Creating Judiciary, Foreign Minister Says

East Timor Rushed Into Creating Judiciary, Foreign Minister Says

New Zealand Press Association September 10, 2002

Wellington, Sept 10, NZPA - East Timor moved too quickly to establish its own judicial and prison system during the transition to independence, Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta said today.

Dr Ramos-Horta, who is briefly visiting New Zealand, yesterday met Prime Minister Helen Clark and thanked her for the peacekeeping troops who have been helping maintain security in the fledgling democracy.

Today he said they would be missed when they left in November, but he hoped New Zealand would continue to help with the country's administration, judicial and prison systems.

The institutions are still very fragile ... our judiciary is almost non-existent,'' he said on National Radio.

The judges were appointed by the UN two years ago, judges with no basic education in law, only a few with law degrees.''

Dr Ramos-Horta said there were so many people in prison they were not being put on trial.

Some in prison, who if they go to trial they would get maybe three months, six months prison for petty crimes, they are there for a year or two years waiting for trial,'' he said.

We should have been more cautious, allowing the UN to control the justice system for the foreseeable future until we have a sufficient number of trained judges.

Some of my cabinet colleagues were in a hurry to timorese the two areas.''

Dr Ramos-Horta said yesterday, after meeting Miss Clark, that he would make special mention of New Zealand when he addressed the UN General Assembly.

Its commitment of peacekeepers and aid had been greater than that of many other countries, he said.


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