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Concern Over East Timor Human Rights Trials

16th August 2002

NZ Voices Concern Over East Timor Human Rights Trials

New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff has voiced concern over the adequacy of the processes and the verdicts delivered in the ad-hoc Human Rights Tribunals for East Timor in Indonesia.

The court sitting in Jakarta has decided to acquit former East Timor Police Chief Timbul Silaen and five middle-ranking Indonesian army officers of committing crimes against humanity.

“People must be held to account for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor.

“The international community will have no confidence in the outcomes of these tribunal hearings when those who were told to commit crimes and those who were responsible for giving the orders for those crimes are not properly punished.

“Earlier this week former governor of East Timor Abilio Soares was found guilty of committing crimes against humanity and was sentenced to three years imprisonment. This was notwithstanding the fact that the minimum sentence in Indonesia’s Human Rights Law for this crime is ten years.

“New Zealand expects that the trials be conducted in accordance with international standards of justice and that those found guilty receive sentences commensurate with the seriousness of their crimes.

“In the three cases heard so far the prosecutor failed to present all relevant evidence and in my view has not met accepted international standards. The judges were not in possession of the full facts when they made their decision.

“It is essential for these human rights trials to have meaning and relevance, that justice is not merely paid lip-service, but that it is actually delivered,” Mr Goff said.

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