Subject: Robinson expects much evidence of atrocities in East Timor

Robinson expects much evidence of atrocities in East Timor

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 30 (AFP) - An international inquiry will produce much evidence of atrocities in East Timor, but Indonesian participation in the investigation could strengthen democracy, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said Thursday.

"There are a very large number of witnesses to violations," the commissioner, Mary Robinson, told a news conference here.

"They know who the perpetrators are. They know their names. A lot of evidence will be compiled."

Robinson had previously received a letter from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan asking her to set up an international commission of inquiry and to report to him by December 31.

Annan wrote that the inquiry would include "adequate representation of Asian experts" and work "in cooperation with the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights" (Komnas HAM).

The Indonesian government on Wednesday rejected an international inquiry into alleged atrocities in East Timor, saying Komnas HAM "has already set up a fact-finding commission".

Robinson said this was "not a substitute for the international commission" but it had an important part to play in the investigation.

An Indonesian team "could go immediately to West Timor with full access", she said. "We are very concerned about the security of people who fled there from East Timor and about the situation in the camps," she added.

Komnas HAM's inquiry would be "confined to the post-ballot period" after August 30, when East Timorese voted for independence in a UN referendum.

The international commission would "begin its analysis from when the vote was first announced in January", she said.

She pointed out that 98.6 percent of eligible voters took part and said the electoral register, compiled by the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), would be useful in tracing people who fled to escape anti-independence militias or who were forcibly taken to West Timor.

She recalled there had been a 78.5 percent vote for independence and said "we have the names of those who registered to vote."

Robinson said she would "be deploying human rights officers and others next week to East Timor."

The Australian-led multinational force had already asked her office "for advice on preserving sites where bodies have been found and ensuring that they will be secured for the purposes of proper forensic examination," she said.

Asked whether she could rely on Komnas HAM, Robinson said her office had been "involved in the early stages" of setting up the national organisation in Jakarta. Its chairman "has regularly attended meetings we organise for the Asia-Pacific region".

Robinson said she had met members of Komnas HAM in Darwin, northern Australia, after UNAMET evacuated its staff and many East Timorese refugees there.

"They were taking very seriously the extent of the violations, the repeated allegations of TNI (Indonesian army) complicity with the militia, orchestration and close involvement," she said.

"I heard very alarming allegations -- I stress that at this stage these are allegations -- that even on the boats taking them to West Timor, women were raped constantly and frequently and that in three camps this continued to be was a pattern of rape and sexual assault. This was repeated to me in Jakarta."

Robinson said it was "extremely important that the Indonesians are taking ownership of the problem of the violations in East Timor and setting in train the procedure".

She said she placed "a very high priority on our human rights programme in Indonesia" and believed it had a vital role to play in that country's emerging democracy.

Asked whether there would be an international tribunal on crimes against humanity in East Timor, Robinson replied:

"The commission will make recommendations to the Secretary General.

"He in turn will report to the Security Council, the UN General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights. It will be very much in the political context that any decisions are taken as to whether there may or may not be a tribunal."

In Jakarta on Thursday, the head of Komnas HAM, Marzuki Darusman, said Indonesia must be given the opportunity to organise its own trial of those responsible for atrocities in East Timor.


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