UN News Centre
Timor-Leste: UN mission welcomes truth panel’s findings on rights abuses
7 August 2008 – The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste today welcomed a recent report on human rights abuses that took place during the country’s bloody struggle for independence in 1999.
The mission, known as UNMIT, also urged the Governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia to follow up on the recommendations in the report put out last month by the Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF), established by the two countries in 2005.
“But a Truth and Friendship Commission is only one mechanism for addressing past atrocities,” UNMIT spokesperson Allison Cooper told reporters today in Dili.
She expressed the UN’s support of the Serious Crime Unit (SCU) and the Prosecutor-General’s efforts, as well as steps taken to address crimes committed in the past.
In the popular consultation held in August 1999, virtually the entire electorate voted overwhelmingly for a transition towards independence.
Following the announcement of the result, pro-integration militias, at times with the support of elements of the Indonesian security forces, launched a campaign of violence, looting and arson throughout the entire territory.
Despite their obligations, the Indonesian authorities did not effectively respond, and many East Timorese were killed – including nine local UN personnel – and up to half a million displaced from their homes.
The Organization boycotted the Commission since its terms of reference into the 1999 violence did not preclude it from recommending amnesty for gross abuses.
Last month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced hope that the CTF report “will be the first step towards achieving justice and reconciliation,” and encouraged both Governments to take concrete steps to ensure full accountability, to end impunity and to provide reparations to victims, adding that the UN stands ready to extend its technical assistance in that regard.
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