Subject: UNOTIL's Daily Media Review 20 Dec 2005


Compiled by the Public Information Office from national and international sources

Daily Media Review

Tuesday, 20 December 2005

National Media Reports

President Gusmão comments on the Veteran's Bill

President Xanana Gusmão does not agree with the article in the Veteran's Bill that states that the former combatants will be recognised from 15 August 1975, because this is the date of the insurrection by Fretilin against UDT. For this reason, the President has asked the National Parliament to change the date to between 20 August 1975 and 20 September 1999. Speaking to journalists on Monday, President of Commission A, Vicente Guterres, said that the President does not agree with that date because it is not a date which recognises national liberation, but instead is a date of a coup between political parties. He explained that President Xanana also did not agree with the criteria determined for veterans to receive a pension, requesting that eight years as a combatant be changed to 15 in order to be able to receive a pension. He said that the President also suggested that family members of former combatants who have since passed away may receive the pension, taking into account their economic situation, and that those who surrendered to Indonesia, or political groups who provoked the surrender of large groups of people, should not be recognised as former combatants. Speaking in the National Parliament last Thursday, the President said that according to the data collected, there are a total of 3,150 Falintil veterans, 1,926 of whom have died, and 1,334 still alive. (TP, DT)

Council of Ministers approve Penal Code

The approval of the penal code is a significant step for Timor-Leste, which can now stand alone with its three important legal pillars, the Penal Code Law, the Penal Processes Code, and the Civil Processes Code. According to the Minister for Justice Domingos Sarmento, the Council of Ministers approved the Code on 6 December, which means that Timor-Leste can now cease using the Indonesian Penal Code. (DT)

NP strongly protests camera confiscation

The most recent camera confiscation by police Inspector Eugenio Pereira during the arrest of Lawyer Angelo Neves and Mario Lay has provoked strong protest from members of the National Parliament in particular from the PDC, PD, Fretilin and KOTA factions. MP Antonio Ximenes from PDC said that such an attitude does not accord journalist's their rightful freedom to record information that is in the interest of the public. He said that the behaviour of police inspector Pereira would bring down the name of the government and in particular Fretilin. He said that if there is no freedom of press, then the people also would not have a voice. (TP)

Mangkoedilaga: TFC Will Study the Status of Wiranto

Speaking to the press after the meeting of the Truth and Friendship Commission (TFC) in Jakarta on Friday, 16 December, Co-Chairman of the Commission from Indonesia, Benjamin Mankoedilaga was quoted as saying that the Commission would use the standard recommendations of the Commission of Investigation for Violations of Human Rights in Timor-Leste (KPP-HAM) as the reference to study and propose recommendations. Therefore, he said, the status of former Indonesian Military Commander Wiranto will be studied by the Truth Commission. According to Benjamin, the recommendations of KPP-HAM, established by the Indonesian National Commission of Human Rights in 1999 and all the decisions issued which have legal power, related to the incidents before and after the 1999 popular consultation, will still be used by the Truth Commission. As it was reported that the KPP-HAM recommended that former General Wiranto, as an entity that needed to ask for his accountability related to the gross violation of human rights after the 1999 referendum. Wiranto, as the Indonesian Military Commander at the time, was seen as the military top official who let the violation of human rights take place, and did nothing to stop it. (STL)

Provedor's Office to hold consultative conference on combating corruption

The Office of the Provedor for Justice and Human Rights is holding a consultative seminar in Dili, Hotel Timor on Wednesday, December 21, with the aim of focusing on strategies to combat corruption. Provedor Sebastião Ximenes told the media on Friday that an expert who has been working against corruption cases in Hong Kong in the past 20 years would also participate. William Bercham Erthan, an international consultant will provide orientation and share his experiences on the fight against corruption. This is the third time he will visit Timor-Leste. The last time Erthan participated in a workshop on the Integrity of the State. Members of the National Parliament, government and civil society have been invited to participate in the workshop. (TP)

Barbosa: police encourage the practice of the abuse of power

Speaking at the headquarters of PNTL yesterday, Natercia Barbosa, a Right Foundation/Yayasan Hak's lawyer told media that the arrest of the director of Advocacy Tane Liman, Angelo Neves and his vice Mario de Sousa Lay at Timor Block Building Industry on 17 December is an abuse of power. Natercia Barbosa, who was present at PNTL headquarters confirmed that most of the lawyers who were there to provide moral support to their colleagues. She also confirmed that their two colleagues did not deserve to be detained particularly without any arrest warrants from the court and that it is against the constitution of the country. TP also reported on the clarification given by PNTL Investigation Commandant, Marcus Siquira A Nunes regarding the chronology of the complicated case involving the arrest of the two lawyers from Advocacy Tane Liman. (TP)

MPs urge Minister Lobato to use existing funds to improve BPU's conditions

Speaking during the National Parliament plenary session yesterday, MPs urged the Minister of Interior, Rogerio Lobato to make use of the existing funds (US $75, 000) to improve the working conditions of the BPU police, STL reported. Members of Parliament, João Goncalves, Liandro Isaac, Clementino dos Reis Amaral, Alexandre Corte-real and Antonio Cardoso stressed on the above matter following the National Parliament Commission B's recent visit to the border region. STL also reported on Commission B's report regarding the difficulties faced by the local border community and vital concerns that UPF/BPU is facing particularly in transport and communication radios, and UPF out of condition posts. MP Goncalves told the plenary that he urged the Minister Lobato to address the difficulties faced by UPF/BPU. MP Isaac and dos Reis demanded Minister Lobato's clarification on the whereabouts of the approved budget. (STL)

TVTL News Headlines 19/12

Ø Cuban Government prepared to accept more students from TL: Speaking at a press conference at the Dili International Airport after returning from his official visit to Cuba, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri told journalists that the visit was positive. Alkatiri stated that the Cuban Government is willing to accept more medical students to study in Cuba as well as sending more Medical Doctors to Timor-Leste. He further added that 400 more Timorese students will depart for Cuba and 200 more medical doctors will arrive from Cuba to help in the provision of health services as well as to assist in the Faculty of Medicine at the National University. The Premier also reportedly stated that he was pleased with the performance and achievement of the first intake of students who are currently attending language training and studying medicine in Cuba.

Ø Two Lawyers remain in Police Custody: TVTL reported that the two lawyers of Lee Weng Ong, Angelo Neves and Mario Lay still remain in Police custody for further investigation. The two lawyers were arrested on Saturday, reportedly due to the client they represent, Mr. Lee Weng Ong, who is still at large and that they would not be released as long as their client remains at large. Speaking to journalists at the Police station, Angelo Neves stated that they were being held in police custody as a warranty of their client, which he said was in violation of the law. Neves further suggested that the police officers be given adequate training to enable them in implementing the law.

Ø Two day seminar on Investment: The Ministry for Development held a two-day seminar on investment at the Center for Entrepreneurship development in Mandarin, Dili. After the opening ceremony on Monday, the Minister for Development, Abel Ximenes, told journalists that the seminar was aimed at enhancing the knowledge of public officials about investment, especially domestic investment. The Minister also stated that the seminar was attended by directors from all Ministries and State Secretariats that have relations with Entrepreneurship development.

Regional Media Reports

Army elite knew Timor slaughter plan, says report

AN OFFICIAL investigation into human rights abuses in East Timor has found that the highest levels of Indonesia's military executed a systematic plan of death and destruction during the 1999 independence vote. The report of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation was submitted to East Timor's President, Xanana Gusmao, last month but he has refused to release it because of concerns it could destabilise relations with Indonesia. A copy of the report, leaked to Singapore's Straits Times newspaper, says: "The crimes committed in 1999 were far outweighed by those committed during the previous 24 years of occupation."

The report estimates 18,600 East Timorese civilians were murdered, and at least 84,000 more died as a direct result of displacement policies during Indonesia's 24-year occupation of the former Portuguese colony. Although the East Timorese administration has not been advocating new prosecutions of those behind the abuses, the commission recommends the renewal of the mandate of the UN special crimes unit to investigate and try human rights violations.

It highlights eight "exemplary and critical" cases of massacres and executions perpetrated by the Fretilin resistance and the Indonesian military. It also calls on the UN Security Council to set up an international tribunal "should other measures be deemed to have failed to deliver a sufficient measure of justice and Indonesia persists in the obstruction of justice". The commission wants Indonesia to table the 2500-page report in parliament, revise official Indonesian accounts and education materials related to its presence in East Timor and provide full documentation of military operations that resulted in human rights violations.

Mr Gusmao, who has kept the report secret, told East Timorese MPs last month that the report's recommendations could not be considered "absurdly utopian, but are realistically very ambitious". The commission found death and destruction surrounding the August 1999 independence vote were not the work of so-called rogue elements of the Indonesian military, as Indonesia has claimed, but part of a systematic plan approved, conducted and controlled by Indonesian military commanders to the highest level.

"Members of the civil administration of Timor and national-level government officials, including [Indonesian] ministers, knew of the strategy being pursued on the ground, and rather than taking action to halt it, directly supported its implementation," the report says. The report cites incidents including the alleged September 1981 massacre of 160 Fretilin fighters and their families on the slopes of Mount Aitana, south-east of Dili. Human rights violators are not named but identified through a coding system corresponding to secret list that only Mr Gusmao has. The Straits Times says the commission is circumspect about Australia's role before the 1975 invasion. It says hopes for a smooth decolonisation were thwarted by "Portuguese neglect, Indonesian interference supported by its key Western allies, the US and Australia, and the inexperience of the young leaders of the territory's newly formed parties". Australia had been well placed to influence Indonesian policy, the report says. It "cautioned against force, but led Indonesia to believe it would not oppose incorporation. It did not use its international influence to try and block the invasion and spare Timor its predictable humanitarian consequences." (SMH)

National News Sources

Timor Post (TP), Radio Timor-Leste (RTL), Suara Timor Lorosae (STL), Diario Tempo (DT), Diario Nacional, Seminario, Lia Foun (LF, Televisaun Timor-Leste [TVTL]-

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