Timor-Leste: UN mandated Commission calls on Indonesia to review prosecutions

27 July 2005 –

The Commission of Experts that reviewed the prosecution of serious crimes in Timor-Leste in 1999 has recommended that Indonesia strengthen its legal capacity, that its Attorney General’s Office review its prosecutions and that some cases be reopened as may be appropriate.

In its report released today, the Commission recommended that Indonesia's judicial and prosecutorial capacity be strengthened by assembling a team of international judicial and legal experts to provide independent specialist legal advice to the Office of the Attorney General on international criminal law, international humanitarian law and international human rights standards.

It also suggested that prosecutions be “comprehensively reviewed” before the Ad Hoc Court set up to try individuals in connection with crimes against humanity committed in April and September 1999 and to reopen some, as deemed appropriate, on the basis of grounds available under Indonesian law.

If the recommendations are not implemented within six months from a date to be determined by the Secretary-General, the report adds, the Commission recommends that the Security Council adopt a resolution to create an ad hoc criminal tribunal for Timor-Leste located in a third State.

In its recommendations relevant to Timor-Leste, the Commission urged the Security Council to ensure that the Serious Crimes Unit (SCU), Special Panels and Defence Lawyers Unit (DLU) are provisionally retained until the Secretary General and Security Council have reviewed the recommendations made in the report.

It also urged the Security Council to ensure the continuity of the work of SCU, the Special Panels and DLU until the investigations, indictments and prosecutions of those alleged to have committed serious crimes are completed.

If these bodies are not retained, then it strongly recommends that the UN set up a mechanism under which investigations and prosecutions of human rights serious violations could be continued and completed.

The three-member independent Commission of experts – Justice Prafullachandra Bhagwati of India, Professor Yozo Yokota of Japan, and Ms. Shaista Shameem of Fiji – was appointed in January by the Secretary-General 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.

The mandate called for the Commission to assess judicial progress made in both Timor-Leste, then known as East Timor, and in Indonesia, then recommend possible future action with regard to the anti-independence violence in which dozens of people were killed and hundreds of thousands fled.

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