Subject: AN: 1999 Rights Violations Now Int'l Concern, says Annan

Friday, February 25, 2005

E TIMOR 1999 RIGHTS VIOLATIONS NOW INT'L COMMUNITY'S CONCERN, SAYS ANNAN

New York, Feb 24 (ANTARA) - United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said here Wednesday the human rights violations that occurred in East Timor in 1999 following a UN-sponsored people's ballot were now not the concern of Indonessia and East Timor only but of the international community as well.

"And therefore I have decided to set up a commission of experts," he said in his report to the UN Security Council (UNSC) on the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET).

Annan said he had conveyed his views on the matter to Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirayudha and East Timor Foreign Minister Ramos Horta when the two met him last December.

He said East Timor had made much porgress since it ceased being Indonesia's 27th province and had become an independent nation on May 20 in 2002 following the 1999 UN-sponsored people's ballot in which an overwhelming majority of East Timorese chose independence. However, he said, East Timor still needed international assistance, even after UNMISET's mandate expired next May.

"The East Timorese government still needs assistance , among other things, to manage its borders, to form a professional police force and other important institutions," he added.

Annan also recommended the creation of a small UN team that would assist the Timor Leste government for a year after the UNMISET'ss mandate expires next May.

The UN chief on the same day announced the composition of an independent Commission of Experts to review the judicial settlement of the 1999 human rights abuses in East Timor.

The three experts were Yozo Yokota, professor of international law at Japan's Chuo University, Justice Prafullachandra Bhagwati of India, and Shaista Shameem, a professor from Fiji.

Yokota, an expert on international human rights law and other areas of international law, was a special adviser to the UN University based in Tokyo, Kyodo reported on Thursday.

The commission would assess the progress made in the judicial processes in Dili and Jakarta and make recommendations to Annan with regard to possible future actions over the 1999 anti-independence violence in which dozens of people were killed and hundreds of thousands fled, according to the United Nations.

UN officials expressed concern about the tribunals after the Indonesian Appeals Court last year overturned the convictions of Indonesian officials implicated, and an Indonesian court in 2002 sentenced a former governor of East Tinor, Abilio Soares, to three years in prison - a verdict far below the statutory minimum jail term of 10 years for crimes against humanity.

(THROUGH ASIA PULSE)


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