18 August 2012

UNSG believes Timor-Leste no longer needs UN Peacekeeping Mission and Confirms Commitment to Prosecution of Indonesian Occupation Atrocities

PM Gusmao greets UNSG Ban Ki Moon
East Timor Legal News ETLJB 18 August 2012 DILI, Timor-Leste - In his off-the-cuff remarks press conference in Dili on 15 August 2012, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon confirmed his opinion that Timor-Leste no longer needs the UN peacekeeping operation (UNMIT) because the country has achieved a sufficient level of social and political development and the security forces had demonstrated that they are now capable of assuming full responsibility for national security.

Mr Moon commended all Timorese for the successful presidential and parliamentary elections held earlier this year, the peaceful and orderly process of which reflected Timor-Leste’s strong commitment to stability, democracy and national unity.

He also welcomed the significant progress made by Timor-Leste in the security sector. For over 16 months, the national police, PNTL, have borne the responsibility for the conduct of all police operations in Timor-Leste which he described as a powerful testament to the growing professionalism and institutional development of the security forces.

In response to a question whether he believed that the country will remain peaceful after the peacekeepers leave, Mr Moon said that, while the national police of Timor-Leste have strengthened their capacity, successfully helped in three rounds of presidential and parliamentary elections and had taken ownership and leadership of policing since March 2011, that did not mean that there were no problems. He said that there are still many challenges and therefore he and President Taur Matan Ruak had discussed what would be the best, appropriate and practical form of the United Nations engagement after the withdrawal of peacekeeping forces. The UN would remain in other forms to support the nation after the withdrawal of peacekeeping forces.

The Secretary-General was also asked whether the UN supports the pursuit and prosecution of people involved in human rights atrocities committed in East Timor from 1974 until independence, including people who are now in Indonesia. In response, Mr Moon stated that the United Nations’ position on this issue was clear and persistent.

"All the perpetrators of crimes against humanity and war crimes must be brought to justice. I have discussed this matter with President Ruak during our meeting. I know that according to our experience, political stability cannot be sustainable when there is no justice for the crimes against civilian populations, crimes against humanity and war crimes."

He said that as Timor-Leste is a sovereign state, he believed that President Ruak and the Prosecutor General and all the relevant departments will take necessary actions so that perpetrators of crimes will be brought to justice.

During his visit to Timor-Leste, Mr Ban Ki Moon was presented with a letter from the Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal regarding the prosecution of human rights abuses and crimes against humanity committed by the Indonesian state apparatus and its proxies during the illegal occupation.

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