Subject: Rights groups urge Annan to back call for international Timor tribunal

Also: DPA - Groups urge Annan to back international tribunal for Timor abuses

Rights groups urge Annan to back call for international Timor tribunal

JAKARTA, July 13 (AFP): Human rights groups on Wednesday called on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to back a plan for international trials for Indonesian military officers accused of atrocities in East Timor in 1999.

The U.S.-based East Timor Action Network, Human Rights Watch and other groups urged Annan to support a UN commission recommendation for an international tribunal be set up and to discuss the issue at the UN Security Council.

Militia gangs, allegedly directed by Indonesian army officers, went on a rampage of killings and arson before and after East Timorese voted for independence from Jakarta in a UN-sponsored ballot in August 1999.

They killed about 1,400 independence supporters and laid waste to much of the infrastructure of the former Portuguese territory, which Indonesia had invaded and annexed in the mid-1970s.

The rights groups said in a letter that the UN commission had provided "reliable analysis" and that it had been "faithful" to the objectives set by Annan in conducting their recent enquiries in Indonesia and East Timor.

Indonesia has rejected the commission's recommendation and, together with East Timor, instead proceeded with reconciliation plans through a joint panel called the Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF).

Human rights trials held in Indonesia to try those responsible -- and to deflect UN calls for a proper tribunal -- ended last year after acquitting all but one of the 18 security officers or officials who appeared before them.

The rights groups accused Indonesia of intransigence in their letter, a copy of which was sent to AFP.

"It is impossible not to conclude that the main factor behind the limited progress in bringing to justice those most responsible for the atrocities committed in East Timor in 1999 is the intransigence of the Indonesian authorities in the face of their international legal obligations," they said.

The groups also blamed Indonesia's lack of cooperation for the failure of the UN-sponsored East Timor Serious Crimes Unit to secure the custody of more than 75 percent of the persons it indicted, including those believed to be most responsible for the crimes that took place in 1999.


Asia-Pacific News

Groups urge Annan to back international tribunal for Timor abuses

Jul 13, 2005, 10:41 GMT

Jakarta- A coalition of 12 Indonesian and international rights groups on Wednesday urged U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to press for prosecution of atrocities in East Timor six years ago.

A U.N. legal commission, established to review judicial process related to abuses committed around the former Indonesian territory's vote for independence, recently concluded that Indonesia's ad hoc human rights tribunal was inadequate.

The panel also called for the establishment of an international tribunal if Jakarta fails to show significant progress within the next six months, a call the Indonesian government has rejected.

"We have seen their )victims') right to justice mocked by the Jakarta trials," said the New York-based Human Rights Watch, the East Timor Action Network and others in a statement sent to news agencies. "We have seen their dismay when political deals weakened their chances of achieving justice.

"Their legitimate expectations have been frustrated for long enough," the statement said. "Only decisive action from the international community can vindicate their rights."

Indonesia's ad hoc human rights tribunal was set up after intense international pressure to prosecute those charged with atrocities committed during the 1999 referendum in East Timor.

The vote unleashed a wave of violence committed by pro-Jakarta militias that was only stopped after an international peacekeeping force was dispatched to restore law and order. More than 1,000 people died and about 500,000 were left homeless.

Indonesia's tribunal has tried 18 suspects. Twelve were acquitted, five had their convictions overturned on appeal and the final case - that of an East Timorese militia commander - is still pending.

© dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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