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Human Rights High Commissioner To Go To Timor

HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS TO MAKE FIRST-HAND ASSESSMENT OF DETERIORATING SITUATION IN EAST TIMOR

9 September 1999

Reiterating her grave concern over continuing human rights violations in East Timor, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson announced today she will go to the region on Saturday to obtain a first-hand assessment of the situation.

The High Commissioner said she hoped to travel to Dili to see the situation on the ground, and to Jakarta. Mrs. Robinson will go first to Darwin, Australia, where she will meet United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) personnel evacuated from the territory in the last few days.

Mrs. Robinson has called for urgent international action to protect the East Timorese and United Nations staff from rampaging militias and elements of the Indonesian military. On Tuesday, she urged the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to consider holding a special session to deal with the situation in East Timor. Today, Portugal officially requested the convening of such a meeting. The Office of the High Commissioner is bringing the request to the attention of the Commission's membership. If the request is approved by a majority of the Commission's 53 member states, the main UN human rights body could meet in the next two weeks.

Today's announcement comes in the wake of an appeal by four UN human rights experts for protection of the East Timorese. Yesterday, the Chairman-Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights' Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Kapil Sibal; the Representative of the Secretary General on Internally Displaced Persons, Francis Deng; the Commission's Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, Asma Jahangir, and the Commission's Special Rapporteur on Torture, Sir Nigel Rodley, cited reports of attacks by regular and irregular armed elements resulting in the killing of over 100 people. The four said they had also received information alleging widespread torture, thousands of enforced disappearances and the forced displacement of some 200,000 individuals. They called on the Indonesian Government to ensure that the rights to life and to physical and mental integrity of the East Timorese people be protected.

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