SECURITY COUNCIL SAYS PLANNING SHOULD BEGIN FOR STRONG INTERNATIONAL PRESENCE IN EAST TIMOR FOLLOWING INDEPENDENCE

6 December 2000
SC/6972

SECURITY COUNCIL SAYS PLANNING SHOULD BEGIN FOR STRONG INTERNATIONAL PRESENCE IN EAST TIMOR FOLLOWING INDEPENDENCE

06/12/2000
Press ReleaseSC/6972

Security Council

4244th Meeting (PM)

SECURITY COUNCIL SAYS PLANNING SHOULD BEGIN FOR STRONG INTERNATIONAL

PRESENCE IN EAST TIMOR FOLLOWING INDEPENDENCE

Presidential Statement Follows Recent Council Mission in Territory

Noting that a strong international presence would be required in East Timor after independence, the Security Council this afternoon agreed with the view of its recent mission to the territory that planning for such a presence should begin as soon as possible.

In a presidential statement read out by its President, Sergey Lavrov (Russian Federation), the Council stressed the importance of further work on the territory's transition to independence, including a timetable and mechanisms for a constitution and elections.  It also stressed that urgent consideration should be given to expediting the training of the Timor Lorosae Police Service and to attracting sufficient resources to develop the judicial system.

The Council emphasized that urgent action was necessary to resolve the problem of the East Timorese refugees in West Timor.  While acknowledging the efforts of the Indonesian Government in that respect so far, the Council called for a number of further steps to be taken, including:

-- decisive action to disarm and disband militias and end their activities;

-- action to allow international relief agencies to return to West Timor and security for the staff of those agencies;

-- action to improve the flow of information to refugees and cooperation to that effect among the Indonesian Government, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); and

-- a credible, apolitical and internationally observed registration of the refugees, carried out in close cooperation with the United Nations agencies and other relevant actors.

The Council also underlined the need to bring to justice those responsible for violent attacks in East and West Timor against United Nations personnel, and particularly those responsible for the murder of peacekeepers who had still not been arrested.  The Council called for action in that regard and for an early start to the trials of those accused of killing humanitarian workers.

The meeting, which began at 12:24 p.m., was adjourned at 12:49 p.m.

Presidential Statement

The full text of the presidential statement, which will be issued as S/PRST/2000/39, reads as follows:

“The Security Council welcomes the report of the Security Council Mission to East Timor and Indonesia (S/2000/1105) of 21 November 2000, and endorses the recommendations that it contains.  It notes in particular the view of the Mission that a strong international presence will be required in East Timor after independence, inter alia, for the provision of financial, technical and security assistance, and agrees that planning for such a presence should begin as soon as possible.  It requests the Secretary-General to report on this matter in his next regular report to the Security Council.

“The Security Council pays tribute to the work of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).  It welcomes in particular the creation of the National Council in East Timor, and stresses the importance of further work on the transition to independence, including a timetable and mechanisms for a constitution and elections.  It stresses that urgent consideration should be given to expediting the training of the Timor Lorosae Police Service and to attracting sufficient resources to develop the judicial system.  It notes the views of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the need to use assessed funding more flexibly.

“The Security Council emphasises that urgent action is necessary to resolve the problem of the East Timorese refugees in West Timor.  While acknowledging the efforts of the Government of Indonesia so far, the Council expresses its belief that a number of further steps must be taken, including:

“—- decisive action to disarm and disband the militia and put an end to their activities, including by the separation of militia leaders from the refugees in West Timor and the expeditious prosecution of those responsible for criminal acts.  The Council welcomes the steps already taken by the Government of Indonesia and urges it to make further progress on eradicating intimidation in the camps;

“—- action to allow the international relief agencies to return to West Timor, which will in turn require that the security of their staff be guaranteed.  The Council looks forward in this context to discussions between the Government of Indonesia and the United Nations on arrangements to facilitate an expert assessment of the security situation in West Timor.  This should be in accordance with the usual modalities employed by the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator;

“—- action to improve the flow of information to the refugees.  The Council urges the Government of Indonesia, UNTAET and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to work together to develop an information strategy that will allow the refugees to make an informed decision about their future;

“—- a credible, apolitical and internationally observed registration of the refugees, carried out in close cooperation with United Nations agencies and other relevant actors.

“The Security Council emphasizes the need for measures to address shortcomings in the implementation of justice in East Timor.  The Council welcomes the adoption of Indonesian legislation for the establishment of ad hoc human rights tribunals.  It also underlines the need to bring to justice those responsible for violent attacks in East and West Timor, including attacks on United Nations personnel and in particular the murder of three humanitarian workers and two United Nations peacekeepers.  It regrets that those responsible for the murder of the peacekeepers have not been arrested, and calls for action in this regard and for an early start to the trials of those accused of killing the humanitarian workers.

“The Security Council highlights the importance of the bilateral relationship between UNTAET and the Government of Indonesia.  The Council underlines the need to resolve the outstanding issues of payment of pensions to former civil servants and the proposed transit arrangements between the Oecussi enclave and the remainder of East Timor.  It encourages in this regard further progress in the dialogue between the Government of Indonesia and UNTAET.

“The Security Council will remain actively seized of the matter.”

Report of Security Council Mission

When the Council met, it had before it the report of its mission to East Timor and Indonesia, which took place from 9 to 18 November (document S/2000/1105).  The mandate of the Mission was to review the progress in the implementation of Security Council resolution 1272 (1999) and, in Indonesia, to review the implementation of Security Council resolution 1319 (2000).

According to the report, the overall security situation in East Timor is relatively stable, with remarkably little general crime.  Nonetheless, international civilian police will probably need to remain beyond the date of independence.  The mission recommends that this should be factored into planning for the United Nations presence that will follow UNTAET and also recommends that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other relevant United Nations organizations give urgent consideration to speeding up the training of the Timor Lorosae Police Service.

The Mission notes that UNTAET is facing significant difficulties in bringing to justice those responsible for the serious violations of human rights that occurred in East Timor in 1999.  It is particularly important for UNTAET to consider all means of attracting the necessary resources, and that decisions on handling serious crimes investigations should, to the extent possible, reflect East Timorese expectations, the report states.

The report goes on to say that while UNTAET has made substantial progress in addressing the security threat posed by militia infiltration from West Timor, the continuation of the refugee crisis in West Timor, the ongoing presence of militia elements in refugee camps, and the possibility of further large-scale returns which in all probability will include militia, continue to be a source of instability throughout Timor island.  An international military presence in some form will probably be necessary for some time after independence.

Although the humanitarian situation has passed its most pressing phase, the report states, East Timor will need continued resources as people re-establish their livelihoods and as long as the prospect of large additional refugee returns remains.  It is vitally important that contingency plans to cope with a significant refugee influx be maintained as a component of UNTAET's refugee return strategy.  In addition, the overall state of East Timor's infrastructure remains devastated.  The Mission recommends that consideration be given to increased flexibility in the use of assessed resources allocated to complex peacekeeping operations, such as UNTAET. 

Continuing, the report states that an estimated 120,000 people still remain in refugee camps in West Timor.  The Mission suggests that the Government of Indonesia work with UNTAET to develop and implement an effective and impartial information strategy to allow the refugees to make a voluntary and informed decision about their futures and to make clear to them that the result of the Popular Consultation must be accepted.  The Mission further expresses its strong view that the registration process should be apolitical, thus precluding any role for pro-integration groups.  To be credible, the registration process must include the involvement of international personnel.

The UNHCR and other agencies will not be able to return to West Timor until security can be guaranteed, including real progress towards disarming and disbanding the militia, the report says.  It recommends that a team of security experts be dispatched to assess the security situation and to establish contacts with the Indonesian Armed Forces, the Indonesian National Police and other relevant parties.  All stages of the return process must be carried out in safety and security without harassment, intimidation or extortion.  The Mission welcomes the proposal that potential international donors visit West Timor, once security has been restored.

The report states that during its visit to West Timor the Mission witnessed the destruction of a number of weapons.  It was also apprised of the continued detention of Eurico Guterres and six individuals allegedly involved in the UNHCR murders, and the progress of the investigations into those killings.  The Mission strongly hopes that those and other investigations will move swiftly through the Indonesian Justice system.  The Mission stresses the need for decisive action to deal with the remaining militias, in particular the leaders, to end their activities once and for all.  The Mission encourages efforts by all parties to isolate hardline militia elements.

The Mission recommends that relationships, both formal and informal, between the peacekeeping force and the Indonesian military be further developed, and that a system of information exchange be established between the Indonesian National Police in West Timor and the UNTAET civilian police and the Office of Human Rights Affairs.  Noting shortcomings in the implementation of justice in East Timor, it urged that measures be undertaken to address the problem and respond sufficiently to the expectation of the East Timorese for justice.  The Mission conveyed its concern over the slow pace of the process in Indonesia to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 1999 campaign of violence in East Timor, including those who had organized and directed the atrocities.  The Mission regrets that, thus far, there has been no progress in bringing the perpetrators to justice and conveys its strong expectation that there should be progress soon.

The Mission urges East Timorese political and community leaders to continue their efforts to reassess pro-integration East Timorese of their readiness to reconcile.  However, reconciliation should not be limited only to political leaders.  The delegation strongly encouraged community leaders in East Timor, and East Timorese community leaders now in West Timor, to establish direct community-to-community contacts with a view to building confidence and facilitating wider reconciliation.

The establishment and effective functioning of bilateral mechanisms between UNTAET and the Government of Indonesia are fundamental to normalizing relations between Indonesia and East Timor, the report states.  The Mission also views as important the establishment of a land corridor between the Oecussi enclave and contiguous East Timor and urges the Government of Indonesia to work with UNTAET towards establishing an effective transit arrangement.  It hopes that future meetings of the Joint Border Commission will contribute to achieving these objectives.

The report also includes, as attachments:  a statement to the press by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia on the visit of the Mission of the Security Council and a statement by Ambassador Martin Andjaba (Namibia), leader of the United Nations Security Council Mission.

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For information media. Not an official record.