For Immediate Release
Contact: John M. Miller, 718-5967668; mobile: 917-690-4391, firstname.lastname@example.org
East Timor Action Network Criticizes U.S. Stance on International
Urges Bush Administration Not to Hold International Peacekeeping
Hostage to Efforts to Undermine Criminal Court
July 12, 2002 -- The East Timor Action Network/U.S. (ETAN) today
urged the UN Security Council to resist U.S. demands for special
exemptions to the International Criminal Court (ICC). ETAN also called on
the U.S. to cease holding UN peacekeeping missions hostage to its campaign
to undermine the court.
“We urge the United Nations Security Council and the United States to
uphold a single standard of justice. No one should be above the law,”
said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN. "The Bush administration
says that it supports international justice and opposes abuse of human
rights. The U.S. can demonstrate this commitment is not merely rhetoric by
ending its efforts to undermine the new court."
"The history of East Timor demonstrates why a single standard of
justice and strong enforcement mechanisms are necessary. The ICC is
designed to deter and prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and
genocide of the nature committed by the Indonesian military during decades
of occupation in East Timor,” continued Miller. “Instead, the Bush
administration -- as part of its campaign to place itself above the law --
has chosen to make an example of the peacekeeping operation in East Timor
its three UN military observers."
"The people of East Timor widely credit the UN peacekeeping
operation with giving them a sense of security," said Miller.
"The U.S. government must not jeopardize current or future
peacekeeping missions by withholding funds, their support in the UN
Security Council, or by withdrawing U.S. personnel."
statement by East Timorese and Asian NGOs supporting the ICC affirmed
"that human rights is a matter of international responsibility and
accountability" and called "on the international community to
strengthen its resolve to pursue justice where justice is due and work for
peace through the rule of law." The
government of the newly-independent country plans to join the court soon.
The NGOs went on to urge the Bush administration to reconsider its
stance on the ICC, saying, "It will do humankind a great deal of
service if the U.S.A. joins the international community in the
establishment of the first permanent and independent international
The Bush administration has said that it prefers ad hoc tribunals to a
permanent court. But in the case of East Timor, the administration has
remained silent on the need for an international tribunal.
"The ICC is an important deterrent, but serious past crimes must
not be ignored," said Miller. "The 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, its
indictments badly drawn, and powerful military figures sit in the
courtroom to intimidate the judges. Indonesia's refusal to extradite any
suspects to East Timor means that authorities there can not prosecute
The Security Council is currently debating a U.S. proposal to restrict
ICC jurisdiction over some participants in the UN peacekeeping operation
in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Last May, the
Council rejected a similar U.S. proposal to exempt from the ICC's
jurisdiction peacekeepers in the post-independence UN Mission in East
Timor (UNMISET). In the end, the U.S. voted to establish the mission.
For more than a decade, the East Timor Action Network/U.S.
(ETAN) has supported self-determination and human rights for East Timor.
It continues to work in support of 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.
background on East Timor and ICC
see also International
Criminal Court Coalition