Subject: USET: Letter to Sec'y Powell Regarding East Timor's Security

The United States - East Timor Society, Inc. ... promoting contact and cooperation between the peoples and governments of the United States and East Timor (Timor Leste)

The Honorable January 14, 2004 Colin Powell Secretary of State

Dear Mr. Secretary:

The United States - East Timor Society, an organization of senior non governmental officials, academics, religious leaders and retired Foreign Service Officers, wishes to express several concerns related to pending expiration of the United Nations mandate in East Timor (Timor Leste) on May 20.

The emergence of the new nation of East Timor represents a remarkable victory for the brave people of East Timor and also for the international community. Nevertheless, East Timor, though democratic, is still a fragile state. Given lethal cross-border attacks by militias groups less than a year ago there are serious doubts as to whether the planned East Timorese 3000-strong local police force and 1500-member defense force are yet strong enough to counter cross border threats. Moreover, very high levels of unemployment, grinding poverty and unresolved scars including absence of justice for the crimes of 1999 and before could be destabilizing. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is calling for an extension of the mandate and Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta has asked for retention of some security presence and of non-security advisors. Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has said he supports a successor mission. Bishop Belo has made similar appeals for an extension of the UN mandate.

It is also unclear whether the crucial Serious Crimes Unit will continue to be funded as part of an extended UN mandate, as has been proposed by the Australian Government. Its work has yet to be completed, and given the failure of the Indonesian special human rights tribunal to render justice with regard to the war crimes committed in East Timor, it is essential that provision be made within any plan to extend the UN mandate to fund the Serious Crimes Unit.

We strongly encourage you to ensure that the UN continues to provide support to East Timor to address security needs, the need for civilian advisors in non-security areas and to ensure that the very important work of the Serious Crimes Unit continues.

Edmund McWilliams (Secretary of the United States - East Timor Society, on its behalf)

Acting Chair - Elsie Mead Walker Treasurer - Arnold Kohen Secretary - Edmund McWilliams Directors - Bruce Cameron, Stephen Rickard, Geoffrey Robinson, Eric Schwartz, Lynn Fredriksson, Kirk Talbott, Aderito Soares, Maria Spangenberg, John Chamberlin

cc: Assistant Secretary James Kelly Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Daley Ambassador Joseph Rees


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