29 August 2009
Australian Defence Force Brigadier Sowry praises East Timor stability
Australia Network News Last Updated: Fri, 28 Aug 2009 13:44:00 +1000 On the eve of East Timor's weekend independence celebrations, the commander of the International Stabilisation Force there says the country has become significantly more stable during the past year.
The force is made up of 800 troops, including 650 Australians.
Brigadier Bill Sowry says Timorese police have taken over reponsibility for several districts in the past six months.
He says the rest of the country is likely to be handed over soon.
"We've handed over three districts to the control of the Timorese police force," the brigadier says.
"So they've now got full responsibility for districts at Los Carlos, at Oecussi and at Manatuto.
"That's a great reflection and in a few months time, we'll hand over the police academy.
"They will hand over probably the Ainaro and Viqueuque districts and throughout all of next year they'll hand over the remainder of all districts."
Meanwhile, Amnesty International has called for the United Nations to support an international criminal tribunal to investigate human rights abuses in the lead-up to East Timor's independence referendum 10 years ago.
A report, released ahead of the independence anniversary on Sunday, says those responsible for killings and other abuses remain free.
A tribunal would prosecute those involved in abuses of rights.
Amnesty's international justice expert, Jonathon O'Donohue, told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program the desire for reconciliation with neighbouring Indonesia must be balanced with accountability.
"Both the government of East Timor and the government of Indonesia have failed to fulfil their obligations," Mr O'Donohue said.
"Given that these are serious human rights violations, including crimes against humanity, they have an obligation under international law to ensure that the crimes are investigated and those responsible are prosecuted."