Subject: Indonesian and Timorese NGOs reject Truth and Friendship Commission

Kompas, 19 March 2005 Translation

The establishment of a Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) by the Indonesian and East Timorese governments has been severely criticised by a group of non-governmental organisations in East Timor and Indonesia. They see this as a hasty move and suspect that it is the result of political deals struck between the two states.

These strong criticisms were contained in a joint statement issued by NGOs in Indonesia and East Timor at a press conference on Friday, held at the office of the Commisision for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence in Jakarta. They called on the two states to render an account for the establishment of the CTF to the parliaments and the public in both countries.

The NGOs from East Timor consist of Perkumpulan Hukum, Asasi Manusia dan Keadilan (HAK), Judicial System Monitoring Program, Fokupers, Lao Hamutuk, SAHE, Forum Tau Matan and Khadalak Salimutu. The NGOs from Indonesia are the Human Rights Working Group, Kontras, PBHI and Imparsial.

The statement was read out at the press conference by Usman Hamid of Kontras, in the company of Amado Hei of Perkumpulan HAK, Choirul Anam of the HRWG, Atnike Sigiro of Elsam and Alex Flor of Watch Indonesia.

Amado said that they reject the establishment of the CTF because it is in grave conflict with the real situation in East Timor. Moreover, the decision taken by the two governments is unconstitutional as it fails to comply with the constitutions of the two countries which mandate the states to deal with crimes against humanity perpetrated in East Timor in 1999.

'At the present stage, we are awaiting the evaluation of the UN and the formation of the Commission of Experts by the UN. We regard the CTF as ignoring all the procedures undertaken up to the present by the UN in East Timor, namely the Commission for the Recognition of East Timor Truth and Reconciliation which is to complete its report in July this year,' said Amado.

The two groups of NGOs therefore deeply regret the establishment of the CTF which they consider as disregarding justice for the victims of serious human rights violations in East Timor.

At the same time, the NGOs welcome the establishment of the Commission of Experts set up by the General Secretary of the UN.

'We suspect that political deals lie behind the hasty establishment of the CTF. This is also evident from the shoddy wording of the CTF,' said Usman

Legal impunity

Measures to revise the CTF wording amount to nothing more than changing a few words while the content remains the same. For instance, the word 'amnesty' in 14 (e) was replaced by 'forgiveness', and the sentence 'rehabilitation for those accused of arbitrarily violating human rights' was replaced by ' rehabilitation for those accused of violating human rights where the accusation was erroneous'. 'This paragraph legalises impunity for perpetrators who have already been tried in the two countries,' Usman said. [Note from TAPOL; most of those tried in Indonesia were in fact acquitted.]

Under 'objectives', the sentence which reads 'to affirm conclusive truth' has now been reworded as ' to affirm the final truth'.

These revisions show that the CTF has been set up for purely practical reasons, while failing to establish firmly-based long-lasting mutual relations between the countries. On the contrary, they forgive the violators of human rights.

The CTF as at present constituted is not in accord with the joint statement issued by Indonesian foreign minister Hassan Wirayuda and East Timorese foreign minister Ramos Horta., which declared that impunity would not be included in the CTF.



Non Government Organizations of Timor Leste and Indonesia:

"Political deals" were made over the Establishment of the Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF)

We the non government organizations of Timor Leste and Indonesia regret the stance taken by the governments of Timor Leste and Indonesia who officially established a Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) on 9 March 2005. We are of the opinion that this political decision made by the two aforementioned countries has disregarded demands for justice made by victims of serious human rights violations that occurred in East Timor in 1999. Moreover, we suspect that political deals were made over the establishment of the CTF which was done so hurriedly and contains draft terms of reference that are appalling.

Efforts to improve the contents of the draft terms of reference (TOR) for the CTF have been restricted to replacing a few words without actually changing the meaning. For example, in point 14 (c) (i) the word "amnesty" has been changed to 'pardon'; the sentence "rehabilitation for those accused of arbitrarily violating human rights" has been replaced with "rehabilitation for those wrongly accused of violating human rights." In the section entitled aim, the sentence "to establish the conclusive truth" has been replaced with "to establish the final truth". In the section entitled mandate, the sentence "to reveal the factual truth" has been replaced with "to reveal the facts."

In our opinion the establishment of the CTF contradicts statements made by senior officials from the two countries who initially guaranteed that the CTF would grant no impunity. An examination of the approved draft TOR shows that the political decision to establish the CTF is clearly intended to pardon those guilty of serious human rights violations in East Timor, without regard to their degree of culpability.

We must emphasize that the principle of reconciliation and friendship, or whatever it may be called, must be rooted in justice. It should not merely be intended to pardon, but to also determine culpability. And it should not aim for the exact opposite, by contributing to current impunity by denying justice, or sacrificing justice in the interests of the current political-economic needs of the two countries. Therefore, we urge the governments of these two countries, in the interest of the victims' rights, to take responsibility before the public and parliament for their decision to establish the CTF.

Jakarta and Dili, 18 March 2005

Non Government Organizations of Indonesia; HRWG (Choirul Anam) KONTRAS (Usman Hamid/+62.811812149) ELSAM, (Ifdhal Kasim), PBHI (Jhonson Panjaitan), IMPARSIAL (Rachland Nashidik), Jaringan Kerja Budaya (Hilmar Farid).

Non Government Organizations of Timor Leste; Perkumpulan HAK (Jose Luis de Oliveira/ +670-7237172, Judicial System Monitoring Program (Tiago Amaral Sarmento)/+670-7233725, Fokupers (Manuela Leong), Lao Hamutuk (Akara), SAHE (Nuno Rodrigues), Forum Tau Matan (Joao Pequinho), Khadalak Sulimutu Institute (Lita Sarmento).

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