Contact: John M. Miller,
Human Rights Activists Welcome Ratification Of International Criminal
Court, But Say East Timor Needs Own Tribunal
April 11, 2002 - An East Timorese legislator joined the East Timor Action
Network/U.S. (ETAN) in welcoming today’s ratification of the
International Criminal Court (ICC) Treaty. The court will be able to hear
future cases of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes.
"We look forward to the start of the international court’s
operations. The court’s creation makes a strong statement that the worst
abuses must be prosecuted. However, the ICC comes too late for East
Timorese and other victims of past systematic rights violations,"
said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN. The court’s jurisdiction is
"While the ICC can not hold accountable the perpetrators of the
crimes against humanity inflicted in East Timor since Indonesia’s 1975
invasion, it can help prevent future atrocities," said East Timorese
lawyer Aderito de Jesus Soares. A member of the East Timorese legislature
and the founder of the East Timor Jurist Association, Soares is currently
in New York to observe this week's UN Preparatory Commission for the
Establishment of the ICC.
East Timor, which becomes independent on May 20, plans to sign and
ratify all international human rights treaties, including the ICC,
"We know what is like to live under a regime that systematically
tortures, rapes and murders," said Soares. "Even now, Indonesia
is not prosecuting the high-ranking officers and political officials who
planned and directed crimes against humanity committed in East Timor.”
Soares and ETAN reiterated their call for an international tribunal to
be established to prosecute those most responsible for Indonesia's
scorched earth campaigns in East Timor.
“An international tribunal on East Timor will ensure the prosecution
of top Indonesian military and government officials, said Soares.
“The ICC is important, but serious past crimes must not be ignored.
The Bush administration appears to lack the political will to call for an
international tribunal for East Timor and some European government
officials argue that a new tribunal will detract from ICC resources. These
misguided positions imply that because of bad timing the people of East
Timor do not deserve justice,” said Miller.
“The severely flawed Indonesian ad hoc court now hearing cases
against some mid-level Indonesian military officers and East Timorese in
Jakarta is a sham. Its jurisdiction is too limited and powerful military
figures sit in court to intimidate the judges. Indonesia's refusal to
extradite suspects to East Timor means that many remain out of reach,”
“This is exactly the kind of national failure that the ICC is meant
to redress. Support for the ICC by the international community
demonstrates that such cases require international measures to achieve
justice," he added.
Recently, the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, citing problems with the
Indonesian court, called "upon the international community to
reconsider the recommendations of the [United Nations] International
Commission of Inquiry on East Timor, including that concerning the
establishment by the United Nations of an international human rights
"The U.S. should ratify the ICC Treaty out of concern for human
rights worldwide. Instead the Bush administration refuses to consider
ratification and may try to rescind the U.S. signature, undermining global
efforts for accountability and justice. The government’s message is that
while others can be held responsible for human rights violations, the same
rules need not apply to the U.S.," said Miller.
After the people of East Timor overwhelmingly chose independence in an
August 30, 1999 UN-organized referendum, the Indonesian military and its
militia systematically destroyed East Timor. Up to 2000 East Timorese were
killed, 70 per cent of the infrastructure destroyed and hundreds of women
and girls raped. Hundreds of thousands were forced from their homes; some
60,000 of these remain in squalid militia-controlled Indonesian camps.
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).
see also: ETAN Urges U.S. to Support
Int'l Criminal Court (Dec. 19, 2000)
see also: ETAN's
UN Press Conference with Filomena Barros dos Reis (2/26/02)
Justice for East Timor Will Not Come
from Indonesian Indictments (2/26)
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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