28 June 2008

STP-CAVR Appeals for Resolution of Serious Crimes Cases

Direcção de Sede: Antigo Comarca Balide Telp: (+670)3311263
Rua de Caicoli, Balide Dili, Timor-Leste Email: info.cavr@gmail.com
P.O. Box 144, Dili, Timor Leste Website: www.cavr-timorleste.org

Press Release 27 June 2008

STP-CAVR Appeals for Resolution of Serious Crimes Cases

The STP-CAVR presented a copy of the Chega! Report to Prosecutor General Longinhos Monteiro this week and urged him to continue to prosecute those responsible for serious crimes in Timor-Leste.

From 2002 until 2005 the United Nations-funded Serious Crimes Unit was mandated to investigate alleged serious crimes committed in 1999. However, the high case load and limited resources meant that when the serious crime unit’s mandate expired in 2005, 40% of cases referred to it remained unresolved. The serious crimes process was revived by the Timorese government in February of this year.

According to SCU investigators, they intend to complete 10 investigations per month until they finish investigations of some 400 remaining cases.

This includes 114 cases referred to the Office of the General Prosecutor from the CAVR. As part of its mandate, the CAVR conducted reconciliation processes to assist with the reintegration of perpetrators into their community. This resulted in some 1,300 people reconciling with their victims and community. Although only non-serious crimes could go through this process, during the course of the reconciliation efforts it sometimes became apparent that a perpetrator may have committed a serious crime.

As a result, the case became the responsibility of the prosecutor's office and serious crimes unit. To date, none of these 114 cases have been resolved.

Once the serious crimes unit completes its investigation of a case, the evidence will be handed over to Monteiro's office and he will decide whether or not to prosecute the alleged criminals Jaimito Candido da Costa, the coordinator of the Chega! dissemination team said that he is hopeful Monteiro will bring the 114 perpetrators before justice in a timely manner.

“In late May people from the serious crimes unit came to CAVR and we provided them with information about these 114 cases,” da Costa said. “Monteiro told me the reason why many of the serious crimes cases had not yet been prosecuted was because the serious crimes unit was not operating. But now it is back up and running, the cases would be opened and investigations would begin.”

Da Costa said trials would not only provide closure for the victims and the families of victims, but for the perpetrators as well.

“We have had the perpetrators come to us at CAVR and ask about their trial,” he said. “They are ready to go to trial, but they are confused why it's taken so long. They just want to know if they'll be found guilty or not­they want to be free of doubt.”

The Chega! report recommends that the serious crimes unit have its resources increased and mandate extended so that it can investigate cases from throughout the period 1975 – 1999. It also recommends investigation of a number of cases of critical importance due to the scale and nature of the human rights violations that took place. These cases include the incarceration of civilians on Atauro Island during the 1980’s and the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre.

Chega! is Portuguese for “enough” and the report details the human rights abuses which occurred in Timor Leste from 25 April 1974- 25 October 1999. The report was released in 2005.

For more information call Jaimito Candido da Costa, 723-4916

Media Team Post-CAVR Technical Secretariat (STP-CAVR)

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