Hon Matt Robson
Minister of Corrections, Minister for Courts
Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control
Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
New Zealand’s help needed to re-build East Timor
4th January 2000
Hon Matt Robson announced from Dili today his intention to provide Department of Corrections Officers and legal experts to assist in the training of prisons staff and the judiciary in East Timor.
Matt Robson, who was in East Timor during the violence of the recent ballot returned this week for the first time since independence.
“The East Timorese government is struggling to deal with a serious law and order problem, as well as the need to prosecute those who have committed gross human rights violations during the violence.
“The question of crimes against humanity was raised, particularly in light of the Indonesian investigation which has named General Wiranto and other military leaders. I was asked to consider helping with the establishment of an East Timorese tribunal to try those involved in mass killings in East Timor. I will discuss this request with the government on my return to New Zealand.
“I have also made an invitation to National Council for Timorese Resistance leader Xanana Gusmao to make a visit to New Zealand as soon as he is able. This would be an extremely important visit and would allow New Zealand to hear directly from Mr Gusmao of the re-building needs for East Timor.
“I am convinced that New Zealand can make a valuable contribution to –rebuilding this devestated country. We can train East Timorese to staff their own prisons and their own judiciary, which will help to build public confidence.
“I have had a good chance to assess what kind of aid contribution New Zealand can make, and I return to New Zealand with messages for the members of my own government. I will advise the government that assistance with teacher training and education, particularly vocational education, are some of the key areas in need of resources.