Subject: U.S.-East Timor Society Calls for International Action to Secure Justice

August 11 Statement by the United States - East Timor Society (For Immediate Release)

"The International Community Must Act to Ensure Justice Regarding Crimes Against Humanity in East Timor Committed by Indonesian Security Forces"

The Indonesian court system, historically subject to political influence, has voided all convictions of Indonesian military and police for their crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999. The special Indonesian court which convened to hear the cases of those who led the assault against East Timorese following their historic vote for independence in 1999 freed most of those charged but did convict and impose light sentences on four senior security officials.

The Indonesian Appeals Court has overturned convictions for the four Indonesian military and police convicted for human rights crimes associated with the murder of over 1,000 East Timorese and the destruction of three quarters of East Timor's infrastructure. In addition, the Appeals Court cut in half the sentence of one leader of a militia that was organized and directed by the Indonesian military.

Two of the senior officials whose convictions were overturned had been indicted on three counts of crimes against humanity by the U.N. Serious Crimes Unit in a joint indictment with East Timorese authorities at the Dili District Court in East Timor. The Indonesian government, however, has vowed not to extradite anyone to the U.N.-backed courts in Dili, in effect precluding pursuit of justice through this international route.

Given the failure of the Indonesian judicial system to address these manifest crimes, it is necessary that the international community exercise its responsibility to secure justice. Respected international human rights advocates have called for the United Nations to create a new judicial process that would bring to justice those responsible for these crimes. In this regard we note calls for creation of a Commission of Experts to review the judicial processes in Jakarta and Dili and propose a transparent process that would ensure justice is done.

The United States East Timor Society, a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization incorporated in the District of Columbia composed of religious leaders, academics, scholars, human rights advocates and former diplomats, supports calls for prompt international action, in frank acknowledgement that the Indonesian judicial system has failed to render and is impeding justice regarding the crimes against humanity committed in East Timor in 1999.

Note: For follow-up contact Edmund McWilliams, USETS Secretary, at edmcw@msn.com; tel: 505-648-2078.


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