Date: Monday, 25 October 2010
Time: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Place: The CAVR office, former prison, Balide, Dili.
Speakers: Judge Maria Natercia Gusmão (former UNTAET Special Panels judge, not yet confirmed), Martinho Rodrigues (representing victims), Charlie Scheiner (international human rights activist), Celestino Gusmão (National Alliance for an International Tribunal), Vice-Minister Ivo Jorge Valente (Vice Minister for Justice), MP Jose Teixeira (Minister in previous government), Louis Gentile (representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, not yet confirmed), MP Fernanda Borges (Chair of Committee A, National Parliament).
On 25 October 1999, the United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 1272 to establish the UNTAET Mission in Timor-Leste “which will be endowed with overall responsibility for the administration of East Timor and will be empowered to exercise all legislative and executive authority, including the administration of justice.” That date marks the official end of the Indonesian occupation, and the legal transfer of administrative responsibility for Timor-Leste from Portugal to the United Nations.
Resolution 1272 expresses the Council’s “concern at reports indicating that systematic, widespread and flagrant violations of international humanitarian and human rights law have been committed in East Timor, stresses that persons committing such violations bear individual responsibility.” It also “Condemns all violence and acts in support of violence in East Timor, calls for their immediate end, and demands that those responsible for such violence be brought to justice.”
During the next few months both UN and international investigations concluded what was obvious at the time – that Indonesian-directed occupation and destruction of Timor-Leste was organized, systematic, widespread and involved the commission of numerous Crimes against Humanity, war crimes, and other serious offenses.
Various justice processes since then have failed to judge the Indonesian military and political leaders who are responsible for these serious, international crimes. UNTAET tried to cooperate with the Indonesian government to achieve justice, but Jakarta lacked the political will to follow through on its commitments. The UN and other nations, in spite of repeated declarations that impunity can never be tolerated for crimes of this magnitude, have failed to fulfill their obligations and promises.
As a new nation, Timor-Leste has begun life in a climate of impunity. If we fail to stop it, our people will not be able to live in peace, and we ignore the principles of our own independence struggle. If we don’t make justice a basic part of our policies, we will never achieve rule of law or an effective judicial system.
When perpetrators of Crimes Against Humanity are able to avoid accountability, they expect to continue to enjoy impunity and continue to repeat such crimes elsewhere.
When the law only applies to certain people, those with power defy it. Victims today and in the future lose confidence in security and the judicial system, and carry out “justice” with their own hands.