Subject: Catholic Church of ET Position on Justice Presented to COE


Presented to the Commission of Experts appointed by the Secretary-General

The Catholic Church of East Timor welcomes the initiative of the Secretary General to appoint a Commission of Experts to evaluate the current processes both in East Timor and Indonesia and to recommend future measures.

We hope that the voice of the East Timorese people, who have suffered from impunity, would be heard.

The decision of political leaders to deny the Timorese people the right to justice reflects a disintegration of reason and the principles of the natural moral law that is necessary for the common good.

The Catholic doctrine is clear on the need for justice as the preservation of human dignity is meted in truth and justice. Therefore democracy must be based on the true and solid foundation of non-negotiable ethical principles which underpins life in society.

East Timor is a nation with a Catholic majority that cannot support the Government's policy of impunity. Acceptance of this policy would undermine fundamental ethical requirements and principles of absolute value necessary for the dignity of the human person, democracy and progress of the people of East Timor.

It is the right and duty of Catholics and all citizens to seek the truth and to promote and defend justice. On this basis, the Catholic community will continue to insist on the moral and legal accountability of all individuals that committed human rights violations and crimes against humanity in East Timor from 1975 to 1999.

The Catholic community will not condone impunity for crimes against humanity. The victims who suffered these crimes, their families and the people in whose names such crimes are committed deserve nothing less.

International justice is now a crucial last resort to bring justice for the victims particularly as both the East Timorese and Indonesian Governments have agreed on a Truth and Friendship Commission that will not submit to a process for genuine justice and real accountability.


The Catholic Community requests the continued intervention of the United Nations to achieve justice for the people of East Timor for serious international human rights violations and humanitarian law, amounting to crimes under international law. As the Catholic Bishops of East Timor we recommend the following:

1. The Truth and Friendship Commission should not be treated as a substitute for criminal justice.

2. The United Nations and the International Community continue to pursue real accountability for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide committed in East Timor between 1975 and 1999. It is important that the international community recognizes the consequences of failing to address impunity. There will be no progress in the implementation of the rule of law and democracy in East Timor if impunity prevails.

3. The Security Council continues to uphold Resolution 1272 in response to the 1999 violence. The Security Council resolution 1272 condemned and called for the immediate end to all violence, and demanded that all those responsible for such violence be brought to justice.

4. Insist that Timorese political leaders honor the commitments made to the international community to bring the perpetrators to justice for the crimes that they had committed.

5. Insist that the Alkatiri Government respect the commitment made to the people through the Constitution for justice and observe Section 160 of the Constitution of RDTL that provides for criminal proceedings with the national or international courts for crimes considered against humanity or of war.

6. Insist that the RDTL Parliament demands international standards of justice and due process of law occurs to achieve justice and accountability for crimes committed in East Timor.

7. The United Nations promotes and urges the political leadership of East Timor to develop a constructive and values based relationship between East Timor and Indonesia to ensure a lasting reconciliation between the people of Indonesia and East Timor.

8. The United Nations ensure that reconciliation based on the interests of political leaders will not undermine human dignity and the need for justice.

9. The United Nations and the international community recognize the weaknesses of the judiciary system in East Timor. The judiciary lacks independence and has low levels of competence. Trials must comply with international human rights standards to ensure their legitimacy and credibility.

10. The United Nations take into consideration the fact that political interference is now a real issue and challenge for any national process. Due process of law may be undermined because of the political interests of political leaders. This factor intensifies the need for international justice for the East Timorese people.


Based on the above factors the Catholic Church of East Timor urges the United Nations Secretary General to employ international justice mechanisms to bring perpetrators of crimes against humanity to account.

We hope that the cost factor and slow moving procedures encountered by international criminal tribunals in the past will not deter the Secretary General from recommending to the Security Council the appropriate international justice mechanism as the remedy necessary to ensure the preservation of human rights and to act as the alternative to impunity.

The Catholic Church of East Timor looks forward to hearing the Commission of Experts recommendation to the Secretary General.

The people of East Timor offer our prayers for the real discernment of this issue by the Security Council and for the members' proper execution of the United Nations Charter in the interests of human rights, justice and the common good

D. Alberto Ricardo Bishop of Dili

D. Basilio do Nascimento Bishop of Baucau

East Timor
April 9, 2005

see also ETAN Supports UN Commissionís Call for International Involvement in Justice for East Timor; Executive Summary of COE Report Please note: the COE report has now (July 27) been officially released by the UN. Click here for full report.

Back to July menu 
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu