21 September -- The head of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) today welcomed the arrest of six persons suspected of participating in the 6 September attack in Atambua, West Timor, in which three UN personnel were murdered.
In a statement released from the East Timorese capital of Dili, UNTAET chief Sergio Vieira de Mello said the reported arrest and interrogation of the suspects was a "positive first step" and further strengthened his confidence in Indonesian Attorney-General Marzuki Darusman.
According to UNTAET, all humanitarian operations in the West Timor were suspended after the attack, including food deliveries by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to refugee camps for East Timorese. Although WFP regrets the suspension of its activities, it has noted that there were 15,000 metric tonnes of rice in government warehouses in West Timor that could be used to feed the refugee population for more than three months. "WFP is confident that local government officials are fully capable of carrying out the food deliveries to the camps," the UN mission said.
Also in Dili today, more than 200 staff from the UN and non-governmental organizations marched to raise awareness about violence against humanitarian workers. The participants called on Mr. Vieira de Mello to take determined measures to ensure the physical safety of staff in East Timor and to encourage the territory's future Government to sign and ratify the 1994 Convention on Safety of UN and Associated Personnel.
In other news, East Timor's National Consultative Council today approved a new regulation on criminal procedures -- after months of consultation and two public hearings on the issue in August and September. According to the Regulation on Transitional Rules of Criminal Procedure for East Timor, any issues not covered in the new code will be subject to the Indonesian Code of Criminal Procedure, as long as those laws are not in conflict with internationally recognized principles, UNTAET said.