|Subject: UN: JRHorta at HR Commission
Exceprts from UN
High Commissioner for Refugees, Head of International
Committee of Red Cross Stress Attention to Humanitarian Concerns Should
War Begin in Iraq
High officials of nine countries spoke before the Commission on Human Rights this afternoon, along with the Heads of two international organizations who cited their humanitarian concerns and institutional priorities in the face of the mounting likelihood of war in Iraq.
José Ramos-Horta, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste, said the small new nation had many human rights challenges to overcome -- while clearly there was much work to be done to protect civil and political rights, one could not forget to address as a matter of urgency the social, economic and cultural rights of the people, so many of whom lived in abject poverty, and furthermore development would depend on the stability gained through security and the rule of law.
JOSE RAMOS-HORTA, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste, said this was not the first time he was attending the Commission. He had attended on many occasions during his country's long struggle for independence, when he had come to plead with Commission on behalf of the East Timorese people. In this connection, he expressed the eternal gratitude of the people of Timor-Leste to the non-governmental organization community, to Portugal, and to others from the Portuguese-language community who had stood by them through the darkest years when only a few idealists and dreamers had dared to dream that one day Timor-Leste's nightmare would be over. Today, he was honoured to stand before the Commission as the representative of a free and independent nation which was the newest member of the United Nations.
The importance of the Commission's support and indeed that of the Organization as a whole then, and since, for the people of Timor-Leste, could not be overstated. Timor-Leste was currently going through the painful yet necessary process of acknowledging and learning from the past in order to move forward. The children of Timor-Leste had the right to grow up in a country that had made an official acknowledgement of the truth. Reconciliation, if it was to be deep and long-lasting, must be based on open disclosures about what had taken place and a willingness to face up to responsibilities. This was but one of the accountability mechanisms established to address impunity. The challenge was to build a nation in which human rights and democracy were defended with pride by all levels of the community.
Unfortunately, the history of Timor-Leste had left the small nation with many human rights challenges to overcome. While clearly there was much work to be done in order to protect civil and political rights, one could not forget to address as a matter of urgency the social, economic and cultural rights of the people, so many of whom lived in abject poverty. However, development in the country would depend largely on the stability gained through security and the rule of law. Concerning the issue of justice for serious crimes committed during 1999, the Commission was informed that the Dili District Court would have exclusive jurisdiction over serious crimes such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, murder, sexual offences and torture. In the meantime, the international community followed with keen interest the work still in progress of Indonesia's own special Ad Hoc Human Rights Tribunals for Timor-Leste.
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