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UN Envoy To Timor-Leste Urges Pledge To Judicary

UN Envoy To Timor-Leste Urges Renewed Pledge To Judiciary

Two days before the mandate of the United Nations Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL) comes to an end, the Secretary General’s Special Representative to the Southeast Asian nation called for renewed commitment to the integrity of the country’s judicial system.

In a statement released in the capital of Dili, Special Representative Sukehiro Hasegawa urged all members of the judiciary – national and international judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers – to uphold the tenets of professional integrity, judicial impartiality and independence. To ensure the system functions properly, the safety and security of judges and prosecutors must be enhanced, he added.

The Security Council created UNOTIL last year as a special political mission to carry out peacebuilding activities. Last week, the Council briefly expanded the mission’s mandate, which was set to expire on 20 August.

The security situation remains fragile in the nation, which the UN helped guide to independence from Indonesia in 2002. A wave of violence earlier this year left dozens dead and forced 155,000 people to flee their homes after clashes erupted when the Government dismissed about 600 soldiers who had gone on strike.

With the UNOTIL mandate winding up on Friday, all 17 international judges, prosecutors, defence lawyers and court clerks recruited by the mission are now completing their assignments. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is taking over many of these positions and recruiting new people so the public prosecution service and courts can keep running. UNOTIL is also arranging for additional prosecutors to be deployed from other international judiciary institutions on a temporary basis to sustain the rule of law in the country.

As unlawful violent acts continue, these steps are designed to help the Timorese judiciary institutions handle the greater number of arrests by international forces. The number of arrests is expected to increase with the arrival of the UN police and the new UN mission in Timor-Leste.

“Once the new international judges and prosecutors arrive within the new few weeks, judicial proceedings will be stepped up to address not only the pending, but also newly emerging cases,” Mr. Hasegawa said.


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