Subject: AU: 'Too soon' for UN to leave E Timor

Also: East Timor confident UN will extend peacekeeping mission

The Australian

February 25, 2005 Friday NSW Country Edition

'Too soon' for UN to leave E Timor

David Nason, New York correspondent

THE UN Mission of Support in East Timor looks certain to be extended, after Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned of continuing government corruption, police human rights abuses, judicial chaos and the danger of renewed hostilities on the fledgling's nation's undecided border with Indonesia.

Mr Annan's blunt assessment was delivered in a report to the Security Council and came with a recommendation for a reduced UNMISET force to stay in East Timor until May next year, 12 months beyond the UN's scheduled departure date.

Mr Annan's plan involves reducing the number of UN military personnel in East Timor from 477 to 179 and police trainers from 157 to 40.

At present, Australia, with 92 soldiers and 17 police, is the third-largest contributor to UNMISET's security component, behind Brazil (143 military personnel) and Fiji (136).

While Mr Annan said the overall situation in East Timor had been "calm and stable" over the past year, he made it painfully clear the nation was incapable of running its own affairs.

He said corruption was a particular concern in the finance and justice sectors and revealed that as recently as January 20, all 22 of East Timor's national judges had failed a written evaluation test -- a disaster that meant none was eligible to convert from probationary to career judges.

Mr Annan said this meant there was now a "complete reliance" on UN-backed international judges for criminal and civil cases.

He said only half of East Timor's 1700 police had "achieved the desired level of competence" and that the force not only lacked professional ethics but was critically short of skills in the key areas of investigations, forensics and logistics.

Even worse were figures showing that assaults and human rights abuses by police -- including sexual assault and gender violence -- had increased since August last year.

On the unresolved issue of East Timor's border with Indonesia, Mr Annan said East Timor's 300-strong border control unit lacked the capacity to "manage and interact with Indonesia's national army on its own".

"Provision of international assistance beyond the expiration of the current UNMISET mandate on May 20 will be crucial for the long-term security stability and sustainable development of the country," Mr Annan said.

"The need to continue to support Timorese institution-building remains critical."

At the same time, Mr Annan said East Timor, which endured 24 years of brutal occupation by Indonesia from 1975-99, had made "truly remarkable progress" since it gained independence in May 2002.

Last December, East Timor and Indonesian reached agreement on a South African-style truth and friendship commission to resolve issues surrounding the violence in August 1999, when East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence.

An estimated 1400 people were killed by pro-Jakarta militias backed by the Indonesian army at the time.


February 24, 2005, Thursday

East Timor confident UN will extend peacekeeping mission

Radio Australia, Melbourne, in English 0700 gmt 24 Feb 05

Text of report by Radio Australia on 24 February

Newsreader East Timor's foreign minister, Jose Ramos Horta, says he is very confident the UN Security Council will extend its peacekeeping mission to the young nation, albeit on a smaller scale. There are 477 UN military personnel in East Timor, due to be withdrawn on 20 May. Dr Ramos Horta will address council members in New York on Monday 28 February to put forward Dili's case for a one-year extension until May 2006.

Ramos Horta The question now is how large this mission shall be. Obviously the Timorese side would like a modest but credible UN presence. We still need some 60 international police advisers, besides some of the police advisers we are already having bilaterally from Australia.

Newsreader Earlier, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned against any premature departure of peacekeepers from east.

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