Annan names experts to probe impunity in independence violence in Timor-Leste

Returnees arriving in East Timor

18 February 2005 – United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today announced the composition of an independent Commission of Experts to review the prosecution of serious human rights violations committed in 1999 in Timor-Leste after the former Portuguese colony occupied by Indonesia in 1974 voted for independence.

Recalling Security Council resolution 1573 of last year reaffirming the need to fight against impunity, he said the Commission would assess judicial progress made in both Timor-Leste, then known as East Timor, and Indonesia and recommend possible future action over the 1999 anti-independence violence in which dozens of people were killed and hundreds of thousands fled.

After the Indonesian Appeals Court last year overturned the convictions of Indonesian officials implicated, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi asked the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to probe the legal processes for dealing with such crimes in both countries.

In 2002 then-High Commissioner Mary Robinson voiced concern when an Indonesian court sentenced a former Governor of Timor-Leste, Abilio Soares, to three years in prison, below the statutory minimum of 10 years, for crimes against humanity.

The three experts named today are Justice Prafullachandra Bhagwati of India, Prof. Yozo Yokota of Japan and Shaista Shameem of Fiji.

The panel will consider how its analysis could be of assistance to the Commission of Truth and Friendship, which Indonesia and Timor-Leste agreed to establish in December, and Mr. Annan expressed his hope that both Governments would extend full cooperation.

In letters in December to Presidents Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia and Xanana Gusmão of Timor-Leste, Mr. Annan outlined the Commission’s tasks and requested their cooperation.

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