EAST TIMOR ISSUES POLICY PAPER ON REFUGEE RETURNS
The Second Transitional Government and UNTAET today issued a detailed elaboration of East Timor’s justice procedures towards returning refugees suspected of committing crimes in 1999.
“The leadership and people of East Timor are truly committed to peace and reconciliation, but this can only be fully achieved if those suspected of having committed a serious crime are brought to justice,” the policy statement says.
The release of the policy paper coincides with the recent upsurge in refugee returns, and today was verbally explained by a UN Peacekeeping Force delegation to representatives of the Indonesian military at a meeting of the Tactical Coordination Working Group in East Timor’s Oecussi enclave.
The policies outlined in the public document are those that have been applied since the post-referendum violence of September 1999. The four-page Policy on Justice and Return Procedures in East Timor simply clarifies the existing procedures in order to counter misinformation and provide returning refugees with an understanding of the justice structures in place in East Timor.
The policy makes clear that the majority of refugees still in West Timor did not commit crimes, and outlines how the perpetrators of “lesser crimes” – such as isolated incidents of looting, house burning or minor assault – will be eligible to participate in the community-based Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation established earlier this year.
Returning refugees suspected of committing “serious crimes” in 1999 – such as murder, torture, sexual offences, Crimes Against Humanity and other large-scale crimes – will be dealt with by the criminal justice system established by UNTAET in 2000.
It is hoped that a clear articulation of the justice and return procedures will allow the refugees to make a clear, informed choice on whether or not to return, and reassure those guilty of committing serious crimes that they will have full rights to a free and fair trial if they return.
The Policy on Justice and Return Procedures in East Timor is attached.
DILI AND JAKARTA AGREE TO PROMOTE REFUGEES REPATRIATION
Indonesia and UNTAET agreed on an action plan over the weekend to promote the return of East Timorese refugees still living in Indonesian-controlled West Timor after the violence of 1999.
The action plan was produced during a two-day meeting in Denpasar, Indonesia. Both sides agreed they should consolidate efforts to provide relevant and accurate information to the estimated 45,000 refugees and assist in their repatriation.
The two delegations also discussed a number of issues related to the eventual closing of the refugees camps, including their funding and a repatriation assistance timeframe from the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
The UNTAET delegation, led by Colin Stewart, Head of Political Affairs, represented the UN mission, East Timor’s Second Transitional Government, the UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration. The Indonesian delegation included Minister of People’s Welfare Yusuf Kalla Udayana, Regional Military Commander Maj. Gen. William da Costa and West Timor government officials.
ASSEMBLY EXTENDS LEGISLATIVE POWERS, CALLS RECESS
The Legislative Assembly, formerly known as the Constituent Assembly, called a two-week recess today after extending its powers over the weekend to cover the remaining two months before East Timor’s independence.
The Assembly fulfilled its primary mandate on Friday – promulgation of the Constitution – but still has several tasks to complete before it officially transforms itself into East Timor’s legislature upon independence on 20 May.
To keep the Assembly working, UN Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello submitted a proposed amendment to UNTAET Regulation 2001/2, which spelled out procedures on the popular election and duties of the Constituent Assembly. The amendment was passed Saturday by 68 of the Assembly’s 88 members. The remaining 20 members were absent.
After returning from a holiday recess on 8 April, the Assembly is expected to take on the following tasks:
Separately today, the Assembly nearly completed work in its internal budget for 2002-2003. Agreed changes to the estimated US$ 1 million budget will be completed in committee tomorrow before Assembly Speaker Fransisco “Lu-Olo” Guterres signs it and forwards it to the Council of Ministers.
- Set its internal rules and committee structures;
- Debate six high-priority pieces of legislation, including a labour code; a telecommunications bill; a public broadcasting bill and a national budget proposal to be presented at the Donor Conference in Dili 14-15 May;
- Consider what international conventions and treaties should be ratified during independence celebrations.
ADDITIONAL JAPANESE PKF ARRIVE; SHIP DUE THIS WEEK
More than 300 Japanese peacekeepers arrived in Dili over the weekend, joining 67 members of the Japanese Engineering Group (JEG) already in the territory. An additional 47 soldiers and two shipments of vehicles and equipment are due to arrive this week.
The 303 engineers and support troops flew into Comoro Airport on Saturday and Sunday aboard commercial aircraft. They represent the largest group of a 690-soldier Japanese Ground Self Defence Force Engineering Group, which is arriving in stages to replace departing Pakistan and Bangladesh engineers as part of the ongoing downsizing of the UN Peacekeeping Force.
A Japanese military cargo vessel, the Ohsumi, will arrive off the coast of East Timor tomorrow, 26 March, to unload vehicles, construction equipment and 47 additional peacekeepers in Suai, Dili and the Oecussi enclave over the next two weeks.
Special hovercraft will be deployed from the ship to transport the troops and equipment to shore. The Suai landing is scheduled to take place this week, Dili on 5 April and Oecussi on 9 April.
INVESTIGATION TO REPORT FINDINGS ON DILI PRISON BY 5 APRIL
The independent investigation team called by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in East Timor to investigate the disturbance of 18 March by inmates of the Becora Prison was asked today to report its finding to the SRSG by 5 April.
At a meeting this afternoon with SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello, the investigative team, chaired by Reverend Francisco Vasconcelos of the Protestant Church, decided that the investigation will determine the events that contributed to the disturbance; the grievances of the prisoners; the conditions at Becora Prison; examine the custodial procedures and whether they are appropriate for managing emergency situations.
The other team members are: Amândio de Sá Benevides, Deputy General Prosecutor Ordinary Crimes; Adelino Simplício, Special Assistant to the East Timor Police Service Commissioner; Gary Lutwick, Special Assistant to the United Nations Police Commissioner; James Coy, UNTAET Human Rights Officer; and Seineke Martins, from Caritas Australia.