Subject: Indonesia-ETimor commission to ignore UN criticism [+Whistleblowing Diplomat]

The Jakarta Post

Saturday, November 3, 2007

RI-Timor Leste commission ignore criticism from UN

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The joint Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) will ignore UN criticism and focus on finalizing its report without testimonials from officials of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET).

"Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda has asked us to ignore minor voices, including criticism from the UN, and focus on finishing our final report.

"We will not summon any officials from the UN again because we have invited them four times without any results," CTF co-chairman from Indonesia Benjamin Mangkoedilaga told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

He said members of the commission had almost completed the three-part report, but refused to give details.

CTF conducted its final public hearing last week. Commissioners representing both countries then convened to discuss what would be included in the final report, which will be based on public hearings, submissions, research and document reviews it conducted over two years ago.

The commission has announced it will submit its final report to the governments of both countries in January.

CTF co-chairman from Timor Leste Dionisio Babo Soares said throughout November the commissioners would discuss whether gross human rights violations occurred in the former Indonesian province.

"After we have established the existence of gross human rights violations we will decide which institutions are responsible for them," he told the Post.

Soares said the commission would only propose amnesty to people who cooperated, admitted their mistakes and apologized.

However, during the commission's six public hearings, none of the summoned have admitted mistakes let alone apologized.

"In the public hearings we have not heard an apology, but the public hearings are only one mechanism, and we also have closed hearings and document review. We will consider all of these when deciding whether to propose amnesty," Soares said.

The commission's authority to propose amnesty has become a source of local and international criticism as many have said it opens the possibility for impunity.

CTF's credibility was further put to question when in July the UN prohibited its officials from testifying to the commission.

Criticizing the commission for offering amnesty to those who committed serious crimes, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told UN officials not to testify before the panel.

Indonesia and Timor Leste agreed to establish the CTF to investigate the violence that followed the UN-supervised independence vote in East Timor (Timor Leste's former name) in 1999.

Violence blamed on militia backed by the Indonesian Military left hundreds dead and forced thousands from their homes. Much of the area's infrastructure was destroyed in the upheaval.

Indonesia claims only about 100 people were killed in the violence, before Australian troops arrived, followed by a UN peacekeeping mission.

Both Indonesia and Timor Leste have set up parallel systems to prosecute those responsible for the violence, but UN reports have described their efforts as inadequate, with no Indonesian high-ranking military officers being punished.


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