see also 10 Reasons Why Indonesian Courts Will Not
Bring Justice to E Timor
For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller, 718-5967668;
Justice for East Timor Will Not Come from Indonesia Indictments
Rights Group Urges International Tribunal Covering Entire Occupation
February 26, 2002 -- Indonesia's recent indictment of seven military
officers for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor in 1999 does
not alleviate concerns that Indonesian courts can provide justice for the
thousands of victims of military violence in East Timor, observed an East
Timorese activist and the East Timor Action Network/U.S. (ETAN).
"The recent Indonesian indictments do not alter our view that an
international tribunal is essential to hold fully accountable those most
responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in East
Timor," said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN.
"The East Timorese are united in their desire for an international
tribunal," said Filomena dos Reis of the East Timor NGO Forum.
"Over two decades of first-hand experience with Indonesian justice
tells us the current ad-hoc court will not be meaningful." Dos Reis,
the Forum's Advocacy Director is currently on a speaking tour of the
United States to build support for an international tribunal.
Last week in Jakarta, Indonesia's Attorney General filed charges
against seven men for genocide and crimes against humanity for the
September 6, 1999 massacre in a Suai churchyard where several hundred
people were killed, including nuns and priests. The murders took place,
two days after the United Nations announced that East Timor had voted
overwhelmingly for independence. Three
members of the U.S. Congress had visited the Suai church just a few
weeks before the massacre.
On Monday, February 18, prosecutors in East Timor indicted 17
Indonesian soldiers and militia for crimes against humanity allegedly
committed 1999. All of those indicted are believed to reside in Indonesia,
but Indonesian officials quickly stated they would not honor any
extradition requests or international warrants filed with Interpol.
"Indonesia's refusal to fulfill its obligation to turn over
suspects to the serious crimes court in East Timor should leave no doubt
that Indonesia's commitment to justice is half-hearted at best,"
Miller added. "The Indonesian indictments should not deflect pressure
for extraditions or an international tribunal."
"The limited jurisdiction of the court, the continued power of the
Indonesian military and the poor quality and lack of training of many of
the judges reinforce our concerns about the Indonesian process. Indonesia
has no witness protection program and traumatized East Timorese are
unlikely to testify in Indonesian courts," said Miller. "The
U.S., UN, and its member states are treading a dangerous line by giving
credibility to a process that is so fatally flawed."
An April 2000 Memorandum
of Understanding (MOU) on legal co-operation signed by the UN
Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and the Indonesian Government allows
for the transfer of suspects. Despite a recent Indonesian pledge to extend
the MOU, the Indonesian government officials maintain that they have no
obligation to extradite suspects.
Last August, the Megawati administration amended the decree
establishing a special human rights court on East Timor, limiting it to
selected incidents from April and September 1999 in three out of East
Timor's 13 districts.
"No one will be tried for the many atrocities that occurred
outside of the narrow time periods and locations. The limitations mean
that the military's role in orchestrating the violence and devastation
throughout 1999 will not be fully addressed. The many crimes specifically
directed at women will also not be prosecuted," said Miller.
"Further, no one responsible for Indonesia's 1975 invasion of East
Timor and most of the massive crimes committed during Indonesia's 24-year
occupation will be investigated, much less held accountable," he
Following the August 30, 1999 UN-organized referendum, the Indonesian
military and their militias systematically destroyed East Timor, murdering
up to 2000 East Timorese, destroying over 70 percent of the infrastructure
and raping hundreds of women. Hundreds of thousands were forced from their
The East Timor Action Network/U.S. (ETAN) supports human dignity
for the people of East Timor by advocating for democracy, sustainable
development, social, legal, and economic justice and human rights,
including women's rights. ETAN has 26 local chapters throughout the U.S.
For additional information see ETAN's web site (http://www.etan.org).
UN Press Conference with Filomena Barros dos Reis (2/26/02)
see also: Newly Appointed Indonesian Judges Will
Not Provide Long-Delayed Justice for East Timor (1/15)
ad-Hoc court news
Case for international tribunal overwhelming
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