27 November 2017

UNCAT Raises Serious Crimes, Torture, Sexual Violence and Child Abductions during Indonesian Occupation

Questions raised during UN Committee Against Torture's Consideration of East Timor's report to the Committee on Serious Crimes, Torture, Sexual Violence and Child Abductions during illegal occupation of East Timor by Indonesia. Responses from Delegation follow.

According to Timor-Leste’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, about 18,600 people had been killed or disappeared between the period of April 1974 and October 1999. The Commission had documented more than 11,000 allegations of torture and more than 1,000 allegations of sexual violence, including rape and sexual slavery, whereas as many as 4,500 children might have been abducted and taken to Indonesia.

Ms. Gaer , Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Timor-Leste, voiced concern about the failure of the Government to adopt a national reparations programme or to create a public memory institute. The Government should establish a database and collect disaggregated data on disappearances and disseminate the report of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation.

The Government should also spare no effort to secure the extradition of at least some of the most important alleged perpetrators from Indonesia and engage in discussion with the Government of Indonesia to reach an extradition agreement. There was also concern that the Government of Timor-Leste had not made sufficient efforts to strengthen the capacities of the judiciary to prosecute serious crimes. [emphasis added]



Could the delegation provide data on follow-up actions taken with respect to the 311 completed investigations and approximately 60 uncompleted investigations handed over by the United Nations Serious Crimes Investigation Team to the Prosecutor-General at the end of 2012? How many of those investigations had led to prosecutions, and how many prosecutions had resulted in convictions and for what sentences? Was the State party considering re-engaging international judges in Timor-Leste so that the Special Panels for Serious Crimes could be convened again? What other steps was the State party taking to ensure that perpetrators of torture, disappearance and other crimes were prosecuted? Was it correct that the Special Panels for Serious Crimes had issued more than 300 indictments related to people believed to be living in Indonesia?

What measures had the State party taken to seek judicial assistance with respect to indictments for torture, disappearance, sexual violence or other related offences filed in connection with Special Panels for Serious Crimes against persons believed to reside in Indonesia? Had the State party ever requested Indonesia’s cooperation in extraditing persons for whom the Special Panels for Serious Crimes had issued warrants? What would be the role of the public memory institute Centro Nacional Chega! in ensuring that all victims of torture and ill-treatment committed during the occupation and conflict period obtained redress? What measures was the Government taking to establish a commission to search for the disappeared and to identify disappeared children in Indonesia and reunite them with their families?

As for the provision of redress to victims of torture, did the State party’s law provide for a victim of torture to be entitled to redress even if the perpetrator had not been criminally prosecuted and convicted? Would legislative amendments take into consideration procedural and substantive requirements? What measures was the State party taking to ensure that victims of torture were entitled to access rehabilitation services?

Replies by the Delegation

SEBASTIAO DIAS XIMENES, Vice-Minister of Justice of Timor-Leste, explained that the Centro Nacional Chega! had an important mission to advocate the acceleration of the implementation of recommendations with respect to the past violations of human rights. It had recommended the redrafting of the Law on Victims’ Reparations and establishing a memorial institution. Mr. Ximenes recognized that the Government was slow in implementing the recommendations because they were sensitive and complex. Parliament would hold relevant debates in order to find a prudent solution that would not force victims to relive their pain and that would not cause conflict among Timorese citizens.

In terms of enforced disappearances, the Government of Timor-Leste was actively participating in meetings with senior officials of Indonesia, and it planned to set up a Commission for Enforced Disappearances. Efforts had been made to organise meetings every year to identify and search for the children who had been abducted to Indonesia between 1975 and 1999, and to allow them to visit their families in Timor-Leste.

The Government had not forgotten the past crimes, which was why it had the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation. It would continue registering complaints of crimes. Timor-Leste and Indonesia had very good relations and it was in the interest of Timor-Leste to foster good relations with Indonesia.  [Extract ends]

See also on ETLJB
UN Committee Against Torture - Failure to investigate allegations of torture and recorded assaults by East Timor National Police
Statement to Committee against Torture reflects serious misunderstanding of State obligations under Convention
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