18 September 2009

Rejecting impunity: Accountability for human rights violations past and present

Report on human rights developments in Timor-Leste: 1 Jul 2008 to 30 Jun 2009

Table of Contents
Executive Summary 1
I. Introduction 2
II. The current situation 2
1. Access to justice 2
2. The Security Sector 5
3. Police certification 7
4. Criminal cases against PNTL officers accused of recent human rights violations 9
III. Accountability for human rights violations committed during the State of Siege 10
IV. Accountability for human rights violations committed during the 2006 crisis 11
V. Accountability for human rights violations committed during the Indonesian occupation (1974-1999) 13
1. Individual criminal responsibility for human rights violations committed in 1999 14
2. Truth and reconciliation processes: CAVR and CTF 14
VI. HRTJS activities to promote accountability for past and present human rights violations 16
VII. Recommendations 17

Executive Summary

1. Launched ten years after the popular consultation that paved the way for Timor- Leste's independence, this report focuses on one of the five thematic priorities for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the human rights component of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor- Leste (UNMIT), that of promoting accountability and combating impunityi. In interactions with victims and their families in all parts of Timor- Leste, the Human Rights and Transitional Justice Section (HRTJS) is invariably met with calls for justice for human rights violations committed during the Indonesian occupation (1975–1999), the 2006 crisis, the 2008 State of Siege, and for current human rights violations. While some positive steps have been taken to address past and present violations, including through legal and truth-seeking processes, much remains to be done.

2. An effective justice sector that delivers decisions in a fair and transparent manner, based on the rule of law, is central to ending impunity. In the period covered in this report, some improvements took place in the justice sector. Timorese court actors are increasingly deployed to the districts, where courts conduct regular hearings. However, further steps are needed to strengthen the system. This is particularly essential if the national justice system is to respond to complex cases of human rights violations, including cases of crimes against humanity, in an effective and credible manner.

3. There was a gradual decrease in reports of human rights violations by members of the police and military. However, UNMIT continued to receive allegations of human rights violations, including excessive use of force. As the PNTL resumes authority from UNMIT Police, it is essential that it develops into a police force based on the rule of law, in which effective mechanisms are in place to address excesses by its members. The clear delineation of roles between the military and police is also a critical concern.

4. Important steps have been taken towards addressing human rights violations that occurred in the past, but the process remains incomplete. The Commission for Truth, Reception and Reconciliation (CAVR) and the Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF) have both completed reports that contain recommendations which, if fully implemented, will constitute a significant step towards addressing the past, including through provision of reparations to victims and memorialisation. Efforts to bring to justice individuals who committed crimes and human rights violations in the context of the 2006 crisis, and in 1999, are also continuing, though the majority of the perpetrators have not yet faced trial.

I. Introduction

5. On 26 February 2009, the Security Council in its Resolution 1867 (2009) extended the mandate of UNMIT for one yearii. The resolution inter alia welcomed improvements in the security situation, reaffirmed the need for respect for the independence of the judiciary, and welcomed Timorese leaders’ conviction on the need for justice and their determination to act against impunity. It acknowledged serious resource constraints in the judicial system, and called for strengthened legal frameworks and civilian oversight and accountability mechanisms for the PNTL and F-FDTL. It also encouraged Timorese leaders to continue efforts to establish accountability for serious crimes committed during the 2006 crisis, as recommended by the Independent Special Commission of Inquiry.

6. This report provides an update to UNMIT’s second public human rights report, published in August 2008 in line with UNMIT’s mandate to “observe and report on the human rights situation”iii. It highlights achievements, as well as challenges. The report does not seek to provide an exhaustive overview, but instead focuses on the area of accountability for past and present human rights violations. In this regard, the report first provides an overview of the current situation, considering achievements, challenges and existing capacity gaps in relation to access to justice and security sector reform. It then provides specific information on accountability for human rights violations committed during the 2008 State of Siege, the 2006 Crisis and the Indonesian occupation. The report provides specific recommendations that, it is hoped, will serve as constructive guidance in Timor-Leste’s efforts to come to terms with its past, in a way that makes the dignity of victims a priority, strengthens national unity and provides a foundation for sustainable and just development and peace.

VII. Recommendations

To the President of the Republic: Ensure that any pardons, commutation of sentences or amnesties conform to international human rights standards and Security Council resolutions and promote accountability for serious crimes and crimes detailed in the 2006 Independent Special Commission of Inquiry report. Continue to work with the President of Indonesia and the National Parliament of Timor-Leste to address the recommendations of the CAVR and CTF. As Chair of the Supreme Council of Defence and Security, regularly review the functioning of the PNTL and F-FDTL to ensure their respect for the constitution, human rights and the rule of law.

To the National Parliament: Discuss the final CAVR and CTF reports and task the Government with implementing its recommendations, including the establishment of a follow-up institution and a reparations programme. Ensure that any Law in relation to Amnesties conforms with international standards and Security Council resolutions, including Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and does not promote impunity or undermine initiatives towards establishing accountability for serious crimes and crimes detailed in the 2006 Independent Special Commission of Inquiry report. Ensure that relevant laws provide for a clear distinction of roles and responsibilities between the F-FDTL and PNTL, in accordance with the Constitution. Regularly review the Organic Laws of the PNTL and F-FDTL to ensure that oversight mechanisms are put in place.

To the Prime Minister: Ensure sufficient funding for a follow-on institution to implement the recommendations of the CAVR and the CTF. Closely working with the Parliament, ensure that there is clear separation of roles and responsibilities between the F-FDTL and PNTL, in accordance with the Constitution. Put in place a framework for strengthening internal accountability mechanisms and external civilian oversight of the security forces. Ensure that the judiciary and prosecution services are allocated sufficient resources to enable them to work effectively throughout the country. Continue to work with the Government of Indonesia to follow up the recommendations of the CAVR and CTF. Ensure that the Provedor for Human Rights and Justice has sufficient budgetary and human resources to carry out its’ independent mandate and to solidify it’s presence in the regions.

To the Minister of Justice: Sustain efforts to relocate judicial personnel to the districts, and enhance living and working conditions. Provide the district courts with adequate logistical support. Speed up translation efforts in the courts and prosecutor offices. Establish a clear regulatory framework on how the formal justice system and customary mechanisms can cooperate in a transparent and human rights abiding way. Develop a plan to socialise and facilitate the implementation of laws addressing the high rate of domestic violence and sexual assault in the country.

To the Secretary of State for Security: Strengthen the PSDO, and take other necessary measures of institutional reform to ensure accountability of police officers involved in human rights violations and breaches of discipline. Ensure that the Evaluation Panel meets regularly and that all officers alleged to have been involved in criminal acts and/ or human rights violations are dealt with appropriately, including possible dismissal for serious cases of violations. Ensure that officers who are facing human rights or integrity issues are suspended prior to resumption of policing responsibility in districts or units. Ensure that the Vulnerable Persons Units (VPUs) within the PNTL, including those in the sub-Districts, are prioritized for logistical and human resource support and training.
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