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NZ funds boost Timor-Leste reconciliation process

NZ funds boost Timor-Leste reconciliation process

A New Zealand grant of $200,000 will allow Timor-Leste’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation to hear up to 100 more human rights violation cases this year, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

The Commission was set up two years ago to help victims of human rights violations during the 24 years of conflict in Timor-Leste before independence in 2001. It has so far heard 600 cases but a further 700 remain.

“The Commission's work has been more successful than anyone imagined. It has played a significant role in resolving community rifts and dissipating possible revenge attacks for massacres that took place in the lead-up to independence from Indonesia," said Mr Goff, who is currently in Timor-Leste.

"The popularity of the Commission's work has led the Timor-Leste government to extend its mandate until October. However the Commission is totally reliant on support from donor countries such as New Zealand, and without further donations it was in no position to continue working past February.

"New Zealand has been a strong supporter of the Commission since its inception, with our international development agency, NZAID, has already provided funding of $700,000.

"The extra $200,000 will ensure a good number of the remaining cases will be heard and hopefully it will prompt other donors to pitch in to ensure all cases are addressed."

Mr Goff said one of the Commission's most important actions to date had been to hold a three-day reconciliation meeting in December involving political groups that took part in a violent struggle for power after Portugal quit its former colony in 1974. Indonesia invaded shortly afterwards.

"Since it achieved independence, Timor-Leste has made considerable progress in establishing democratic institutions of governance, and the Commission has been a major part of that.

New Zealand is very happy to support Timor-Leste’s efforts in this important process,” Mr Goff said.

For more information on NZAID’s programme in Timor-Leste, visit www.nzaid.govt.nz

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