|Subject: AKI: NGOS call for closure of CTF
INDONESIA-EAST TIMOR: NGOS CALL FOR CLOSURE OF ‘NOT-CREDIBLE’ TRUTH COMMISSION
Jakarta, 25 May (AKI) - A worldwide coalition of some three dozen human rights groups have called on Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and East Timor’s President Jose Ramos-Horta to close the bilateral Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF), because it is "not-credible." "It is obvious from its mandate and its performance that the CTF is not a credible mechanism to seek justice or even truth regarding events in East Timor in 1999, let alone from 1975 to 1999," the coalition said in an open letter.
"The creation of the CTF was an act of political expediency that was doomed from the beginning", said Dr Mark Byrne, of the Australian Coalition for Transitional Justice in East Timor. "Its terms of reference permit it to recommend amnesties for the perpetrators of the most brutal human rights violations."
"The public hearings have become forums for alleged perpetrators to attempt to rewrite history by blaming the victims and the United Nations,” he added.
The letter recommends instead that support be given to reconstituting the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in Dili with effective authority to arrest and try perpetrators of serious crimes committed in East Timor during the Indonesian occupation, regardless of where they currently reside.
The Special Panels ran from 2002-2005 but ended their work before it was completed due to a lack of cooperation from Indonesia and inadequate support from the UN.
The CTF began in 2005 as an effort to deflect a United Nations report call for Indonesia to be given six months to prosecute those within its jurisdiction accused of serious crimes during East Timor’s 1999 independence referendum.
The CTF was originally intended to last for one year, but its mandate was extended in 2006. The commissioners , five each from Indonesia and East Timor, have recently asked for another year to complete their work.
However, the Commission has been beset by problems, including the widespread perception that it lacks legitimacy; serious deficiencies in the standards of its public hearings, including no clear procedure for reconciling conflicting versions of the truth and a lack of clarity and transparency about its processes.
Over 1400 people are believed to have been killed by Indonesian Military-backed militias after the 1999 referendum, which ended a 24-year occupation. Militia leader Eurico Guterres, the only person jailed in Indonesia for the violence, is serving a 10-year sentence at a Jakarta prison.