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East Timor tribunal has not delivered justice

Goff: East Timor tribunal has not delivered justice

New Zealand is to co-sign a European Union declaration expressing disappointment at the results from the Indonesian human rights tribunal that was hearing cases from East Timor.

Mr Goff said the formation of the Ad Hoc Human Rights Tribunal on East Timor had been a crucial first step in bringing to justice people responsible for abuses in the former Indonesian territory prior to the vote for independence in 1999.

"However, the trials, which were completed today, failed to deliver justice, not withstanding the guilty verdict handed down in the final judgment," Mr Goff said.

"As an expression of our concern at a process that was deficient, New Zealand has accepted an invitation to co-sign the EU declaration, as have Canada and Switzerland.

"The declaration expresses disappointment that the prosecutors did not submit all the evidence, especially that referred to in reports from UN investigators and the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights, alleging that elements of the military, police and government funded, trained and abetted local militia.

"No official from UNAMET (the UN agency which oversaw the independence vote), or members of independent observer missions, and only a very few victims from East Timor were called to testify.

"These deficiencies in the process have jeopardised the credibility of the verdicts, where few convictions were achieved and where sentences for those convictions failed to match the seriousness of the crimes committed.

"Bringing to account all those who committed serious human rights violations would have enhanced trust in the judiciary and contributed to reconciliation.

"Those outcomes can now only be achieved if the Indonesian judiciary ensures the appeal process is conducted in a manner consistent with international legal standards, and the appeal judgments are set out in a transparent manner.

"New Zealand joins with the EU in urging the Indonesian government to implement the UN Special Rapporteur's recommendations on reforming the judicial system, and to take steps to improve proceedings at future trials on human rights violations.

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