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"Speedy Justice Essential" For Timor Groups Say

For Immediate Release

NGOs Urge UN Secretary General to Establish International Tribunal for East Timor

"Speedy Justice Essential" Groups Say

Contact: John M. Miller, ETAN, +1-718-596-7668; +1-917-690-4391 (US) Bonar Tigor Naipospos,Solidamor +62-21-422-4079 or +62-21-422-6348 (Indonesia) Paul Barber, TAPOL, +44-1420-80153 (UK)

July 5, 2000 -- Calling "speedy justice ... essential," dozens of non-governmental organizations and human rights campaigners today urged UN Secretary General Kofi Annan "to recommend to the Security Council that it takes immediate steps to establish an international tribunal for East Timor."

In a letter delivered to the Secretary-General, the groups wrote that such a tribunal is "the only viable option" to achieve justice for East Timor. Citing a lack of effectiveness by the Indonesian government in prosecuting those responsible for the systematic violence in East Timor last year, the NGOs wrote that an international tribunal "is the only way you can fulfill your responsibility to ensure timely justice for East Timorese victims of gross violations of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law."

"Speedy justice is essential for peace, reconciliation and stability in East Timor - and for democracy and stability in Indonesia," the letter argued.

The letter, coordinated by the 39-member International Federation for East Timor was signed by an additional 89 organizations and individuals from 26 countries. The groups urged the Secretary-General to follow through on the UN's International Commission of Inquiry on East Timor recommendation of an international tribunal. Last February the Security Council encouraged Indonesia "to institute a swift, comprehensive, effective and transparent legal process, in conformity with international standards of justice and due process of law'. The letter said these conditions will not be met for some time.

The letter said "the main obstacles to the speedy completion of the Indonesian process are the lack of political will in certain quarters to ensure the process succeeds, the serious flaws in the human rights courts bill now before the Indonesian Parliament, and the poor calibre of judicial personnel."

Among the groups signing the letter were the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, Canadian Labour Congress, Veterans for Peace (U.S.), Catholic Institute for International Relations (UK), KWIA, Support Group for Indigenous Peoples (Belgium) and Initiatives for International Dialogue, the Phillipines. Indonesian groups signing included PBHI (Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association), Solidamor (Solidarity Forum for Peace in East Timor) and PIJAR (Information Centre and Reform Action Network).

In the months leading up to last August 30 vote in East Timor, the International Federation for East Timor sent 140 non-partisan observers to East Timor to observe the U.N.-administered consultation process. IFET was formed in 1991 to support the self-determination process for East Timor at the United Nations. It now has 39 member groups from 23 countries.

A copy of the letter can be obtained by sending a blank e-mail to ifetltr@etan.org.

-30-

Dear Secretary General,

International Tribunal for East Timor

We are writing to urge you to recommend to the Security Council that it takes immediate steps to establish an international tribunal for East Timor as recommended by the International Commission of Inquiry on East Timor. We believe this is the only way you can fulfill your responsibility to ensure timely justice for East Timorese victims of gross violations of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law.

We are making this request in the light of the Security Council's statement in its letter to you of February 18 that the perpetrators should be brought to justice 'as soon as possible' and the Council's decision to encourage Indonesia 'to institute a swift, comprehensive, effective and transparent legal process, in conformity with international standards of justice and due process of law'.

We have followed closely Indonesia's efforts to bring those responsible to justice through its own judicial system. We have also taken into account the views of leading Indonesian human rights and legal aid NGOs and lawyers, some of whom have signed this letter. Many of them have indicated they have no faith in the emerging justice system in their country. Whilst acknowledging the efforts and sincerity of some of those involved in the process, we have concluded that progress has not been satisfactory and that international standards of justice will not prevail in Indonesia for some considerable time. The December 1999 report of the three special rapporteurs of the Commission on Human Rights recommended that the Indonesian process should be completed in 'a matter of months'. At the beginning of February, Attorney General, Marzuki Darusman, said it would take three months to decide whether to file charges. That has not happened and an international tribunal is, therefore, the only viable option.

The main obstacles to the speedy completion of the Indonesian process are the lack of political will in certain quarters to ensure the process succeeds, the serious flaws in the human rights courts bill now before the Indonesian Parliament, and the poor calibre of judicial personnel.

The lack of political will behind the process was evident in Indonesia's stance at the UN Commission on Human Rights in April. It objected strongly to the reference in an initial draft of the Chairman's Statement on East Timor to its obligation to set up a 'Special Human Rights Court that meets international standards'.

We are now concerned that problems may arise from the obstructive tactics of certain factions of the military/police legislators and their allies within Parliament and the bureaucracy. There have been disturbing signs recently that hard-line elements of the military are beginning to re-assert themselves and backing down from their commitment to stay out of politics. This could delay the enactment of the human rights courts bill by many more months. The military/police and Golkar factions in Parliament have already raised basic objections that could destroy the thrust of the bill.'

The bill will require substantial revision if it is to meet international standards. We are concerned that it is not consistent with international law in its definitions of 'gross violations of human rights'. They fall far short of accepted definitions of crimes against humanity and war crimes. This could lead to crimes being passed off as ordinary human rights abuses with lower-ranking military officers being targeted so that higher-ranking officers and political leaders can avoid accountability as they have so often done in the past.

The bill allows for excessive political interference in the judicial process with the executive and/or the legislature being involved in the appointment of the investigators, prosecutors and judges. These matters should be the function of a neutral judicial body.

We are extremely concerned by the repeated statements of President Wahid that he will pardon leading generals if they are found guilty. His intervention in this way is unacceptable. Justice will not be done and be seen to be done unless appropriate punishments are fairly administered by the courts.

We are also acutely conscious of the fact that whatever improvements are made to the draft law to bring it up to international standards, justice will not be done unless professional, independent and impartial legal personnel are available to carry out the investigations, prosecutions and trials. It is widely acknowledged that very few current judges can be regarded as independent and untainted by ingrained judicial corruption. Reformist elements in the Government are committed to overhauling the system, but it is clear that this will take time. Minister of Law and Legislation, Yusril Ihza Mahendra, has admitted there is a shortage of 'capable and clean judges' and is currently replacing over half of those based in Jakarta. He has set out a five-year plan to revamp the legal system, but that time-scale is optimistic given the immense size of the task facing him.

Apart from the judges, there are very few prosecutors and investigators who elicit confidence in their ability to act professionally and impartially. We are extremely concerned about the composition of the team set up to investigate the East Timor crimes because of the inclusion of military and police personnel. The investigation cannot be effective and impartial if it involves individuals representing organs of state implicated in the crimes.

It is clear that East Timorese from every level of society want an international tribunal. It is difficult for them to trust an Indonesian system that oppressed them for twenty-four years. It is perverse to expect traumatised victims and witnesses to testify in an Indonesian court. Moreover, it is wholly unfair to use the East Timor trials as test cases for a reformed Indonesian judicial system. The crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide committed in East Timor are a matter of international concern and should be treated as such legally.

Speedy justice is essential for peace, reconciliation and stability in East Timor - and for democracy and stability in Indonesia - and we respectfully ask you to act swiftly on our demand for an international tribunal. We are urging our respective governments and the European Union to support this demand.

Yours sincerely Charles Scheiner


For and on behalf of IFET and the following co-signatories:

Indonesia
Solidamor (Solidarity Forum for Peace in East Timor)
PBHI (Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association)
PIJAR (Information Centre and Reform Action Network)

UK
East Timor Solidarity
Catholic Institute for International Relations
Pax Christi UK
Christians in Solidarity with East Timor
Ann Clwyd, Labour Member of UK Parliament
Liz Lynne, Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament
Linda Fabiani, Scottish National Party Member of the Scottish Parliament
Dafydd Wigley, Plaid Cymru Member of the UK Parliament and of the
National Assembly for Wales
Donald Reid, Director - Scottish Civic Forum
Rev Vaughan Jones, Director, Praxis
Iain Scobbie, Lecturer in Public and International Law, University of
Glasgow
Keir McKelvine, Transport and General Workers Union
Alan Rae, Edinburgh Trades Council
Rosemary Burnett, Amnesty International Scotland
Fr. Diglen, Parliamentary Officer Catholic Church in Scotland
Joan Weir, Scottish Social Action
Nicola Witcombe, Student Action for Refugees UK
Cecilia Boccorh, Scottish Churches Agency for Racial Justice
Graham Kerr, Scottish Churches Parliamentary Officer
James Mackenzie
Danny McGowan

US
Mary Anne Mercer and Beth Rivin, Co-chairs Northwest International
Health Action Coalition Seattle Washington
Blase Bonpane, Ph.D, Office of the Americas, Los Angeles, California
Gordon S. Clark, Executive Director, Peace Action, Washington, DC
Lesley Carson, Director, Forefront, New York, NY
John M. Miller, Director, Foreign Bases Project, New York, NY
Dr. Ramin Ahmadi MD MPH, Griffin Center for Health and Human Rights,
Derby, CT
Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, Chair International Forum on Aceh, New York
Hari Scordo, Executive Director, Veterans For Peace, Washington D.C.
20005
Joseph K. Grieboski, President, Institute on Religion and Public Policy
Inc.
Kurt Biddle, IndonesiaAlert!
Robert Doolittle, Chairman, Boston Catholic Task Force for East Timor
Maria Lya Ramos, Coordinator, Washington Peace Center
Bill Ramsey, Human Rights Action Service, St Louis
Frank Ruddy, retired US Ambassador and former Deputy Chairman of the
Referendum for Western Sahara (MINURSO)
Mike Amitay, Director, Washington Kurdish Institute
Melinda Miles, Co-Director, Quixote Center
Peter J. Davies, US Representative, Saferworld
Rev. Joseph P. La Mar, M.M. Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, Maryknoll,
NY
Sonam Wangdu, Chairman, U.S. Tibet Committee
Joseph K. Grieboski, President, Institute on Religion and Public Policy,
Inc.
Reverend Dennis M. Davidson, President, Unitarian Universalist
Peace Fellowship.
John Oei, Founder, Indonesian Chinese American Network (ICANet)

Canada
Seh Ching Wen, Canadians Concerned About Ethnic Violence in Indonesia,
Toronto
Drew Penland, West Papua Action Network, Victoria
Svend J. Robinson, Member of Parliament, Burnaby-Douglas, British
Columbia,
New Democratic Party of Canada
Kathryn Robertson, Canada Asia Working Group, Toronto
Rights and Democracy (International Centre for Human Rights and
Democratic Development)
National Action Committee on the Status of Women
Amnesty International Canada (English Speaking Branch)
Canadian Federation of Students
Canadian Labour Congress
Canadian Peace Alliance
Council of Canadians
National Action Committee on the Status of Women
Rights and Democracy (International Centre for Human Rights and
Democratic Development)

Other
James Dunn, Convenor, Human Rights Council of Australia
Jonneke Naber, Justitia et Pax, Netherlands
Sysay Chanthavixay, Laotian Democratic Movement,
Prof. Julian Bauer, ECOTERRA Intl. (Survival & Freedom for People and
Nature), Nairobi, Kenya
Japanese Catholic Council for Justice and Peace
Sai Wansai, Sec. Gen., Shan Democratic Union
KWIA, Support Group for Indigenous Peoples, Belgium
Gus Miclat, Director, Initiatives for International Dialogue, the
Phillipines
VVV Oost-Timor, Amsterdam
Federation Internationale des ligues des Droits de l'Homme (International
Federation of Human Rights leagues)
Association Démocratie Indonésie Liberté (ADIL), France
Dr. Gopal Krishna Siwakoti, Executive Director, Inhured
International/Himright, Nepal
Dr. Angelika Koester-Lossack, Green Member of Parliament, Germany
International Association of Jurists for the Western Sahara
Felipe Michelini, Member of the Uruguayan Parliament, Montevideo
ISODE -Institute for Solidarity and Development of Uruguay.
Action des Chrétiens pour l'abolition de la torture (ACAT-France).
Signe Aanby, International Officer, National Union of Students in Norway
(NSU)
José María Clemente Bonilla, Co-ordinator, Liga Española Pro-Derechos
Humanos (Spanish League for Human Rights)

Students at Red Cross Nordic United World College, Norway: Turid
Tersmeden
(Sweden)
Marketa Malkova (Czech Republic) ; Susanna Nilson (Sweden); Marin Ros
(Iceland); Awras Majeed (New Zealand); Eszter P`eterfai (Hungary); Joanna
Ohman (Finland); Elisa Wynne-Hughes (Canada); Noa Epstein (Israel)

Mr Budi Tjajhono, President of Pax Romana IMCS (International
Catholic Movement of Catholic Students)
The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara

Member Organizations of the International Federation for East Timor
Australia-East Timor Association
Australians for a Free East Timor
Brisbane East Timor Office (Australia)
Campaign for an Independent East Timor (South Australia)
East Timor International Support Center (Australia)
East Timor Relief Association (Australia)
Friends of East Timor, Western Australia
Hobart East Timor Committee (Australia)
Lismore Friends of East Timor (Australia)
Canadian Action for Indonesia and East Timor
East Timor Alert Network (Canada)
National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT, East Timor)
Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (Fiji)
East Timor Group of Committee of 100 (Finland)
Agir Pour Timor (France)
Association Solidarité Timor-Oriental (France)
Gesellschaft fur Bedrohte Volker (Germany)
Watch Indonesia! (Germany)
East Timor Roundtable (Hong Kong)
Indian Society for Human Rights
Forum Solidaritas Untuk Rakyat Timor Lorosae (FORTILOS, Indonesia)
East Timor Ireland Solidarity Campaign
Latin American and Mediterranean Coalition for East Timor (Italy)
Free East Timor - Japan Coalition
East Timor Information Network (Malaysia)
International Platform of Jurists for East Timor (Netherlands)
Norwegian Cooperation Council for East Timor and Indonesia
Asia-Pacific Coalition on East Timor (Philippines)
A Paz é Possivel em Timor Leste (Port.)
Commissão para os Direitos do Povo Maubere (Portugal)
Movimento Christão para a Paz (Port.)
Paz é Justica para Timor Leste (Portugal)
East Timor Scotland Support Group
Instituto de Estudios Políticos para América Latina y Africa (Spain)
Östtimor Kommitten (Sweden)
TAPOL (U.K.)
British Coalition for East Timor
East Timor Action Network (USA)
International Secretariat, Parliamentarians for East Timor

end

etanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetan John M. Miller Internet: john@etan.org Media & Outreach Coordinator, East Timor Action Network 48 Duffield St., Brooklyn, NY 11201 USA Phone: (718)596-7668 Fax: (718)222-4097 Web site: http://www.etan.org

Send a blank e-mail message to info@etan.org to find out how to learn more about East Timor on the Internet

etanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetan


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