12 February 2010

ICTJ and European Union Launch a Project to Promote Accountability to Strengthen Peace in Timor-Leste

Dili, 11 February 2009: The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and the European Union Launch a Project to Promote Accountability to Strengthen Peace in Timor-Leste

The European Union is supporting the efforts to promote accountability for past human rights violations as a critical part of building a more sustainable peace and ensure non-recurrence of serious violations in Timor-Leste. To this effect, a total amount of € 550,000 (750,000 USS Dollars) has been made available for financial support to ICTJ to effectively strengthen the capacity of members of the National Parliament, State Officials, Civil Society members, victims groups, and stakeholders to better understand options and implement transitional justice measures on past violations, as it is recommended in the CAVR and the CTF reports. This measure underscores the EU's belief that justice and reconciliation will contribute largely to the stabilization of the country.

The ICTJ has actively supported efforts in Timor-Leste to address the legacy of human rights violations and impunity left by 24 years of Indonesian occupation and internal conflict. It has assisted and monitored truth-seeking mechanisms and prosecutions, and supported efforts to ensure the dissemination and implementation of findings and recommendations by Timor-Leste's truth and reconciliation commissions.

Considering also its worldwide expertise in the field of transitional justice, the European Union is launching today with ICTJ a project that will enhance the understanding on the findings and recommendations of the two truth commissions (CAVR and CTF) and provide technical assistance to concerned members of the National Parliament, state agencies and civil society groups on options to implement prioritised recommendations. The expected duration of this initiative is 18 months and the budget € 550,000 (750,000 US Dollars).

"Our experience in post-conflict settings shows that, unless addressing past violations is included as an important part of the nation-building process, future peace and stability will be compromised and the shadows of the past may contribute to instability for decades to come. There are no 'quick fixes' for a society that has suffered as the Timorese have. This project will help to ensure that the lessons learned from the past are transformed into practical contributions for the country's future," said ICTJ Asia Director, Mr. Patrick Burgess.

Even with the significant improvement in terms of security and overall economic growth, Timor-Leste remains in a fragile situation which might potentially be exacerbated if there is not a proper process of dealing with the truth and reconciliation reports. The project being launched today will help to enhance the understanding of these reports and its key lessons and values to on-going nation-building and stability in Timor-Leste.

"Having in mind that on 14 December 2009, the Timor-Leste National Parliament adopted a Resolution agreeing to set up and fund a special institution to implement the recommendations from the CAVR and CTF reports, one cannot over-emphasize the importance and timeliness of this initiative. The European Union recognizes the need for justice and reconciliation in a context of fragility as a contribution to support the commendable efforts of the Government to assure a long term stability in Timor-Leste", said Mr. Juan Carlos Rey, Ambassador of the European Union to Timor-Leste. – END –

Image added by ETLJB: Human rights abuses during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor 1975-1999.

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