24 February 2010

HAK Association report on Human Rights in western districts

Last week, the HAK Association published a report on Human Rights in Covalima and Bobonaro districts, where Timor-Leste's police were conducting special operations in response to reported activities of "ninja" groups. Follow links for the accompanying press release in Tetum and English, as well as Tetum and English versions of the full report.

HAK sent a team to Bobonaro and Covalima districts which "gathered information from community authorities and local government, some victims, suspects, community members, and from direct observation of the situation where 'ninja' threats might exist. Based on our observations, we urge immediate attention by the responsible authorities to prevent a worsening situation and further human rights violations."

Their report has three main sections:
1. Rumors About  "Ninja"

2. Criminal Cases Being Considered as "Ninja" Activity
3. The Effects of the PNTL Operation "Combat Ninja"

These are followed by some Concerns and the following Recommendations (abridged in this posting).  Follow the links above for complete press release and report.
1. The responsible organs for the security sector quickly examine the policy for the "special PNTL" operation to combat "ninja". Is it necessary to undertake an operation with police force characteristic of the military, and particularly an operation extended for six months that includes Falintil-Defense Force of Timor-Leste (F-FDTL)?

2. The responsible organs quickly revise the Plan for PNTL Reform in order to assure conformity and consistency between the plan and its implementation.

3. National Parliament supervise how PNTL enforces the laws.

4. The responsible bodies (PNTL Justice Unit or Prosecutor) take measures to strengthen the integrity of PNTL as an institution, and use appropriate means to hold individual members of the PNTL "special" commando operation responsible for their violations of human rights or criminal behavior.

5. The Ministry of Social Solidarity (MSS) provide assistance to the people who suffered as a result of the "special" PNTL operation.

6. Future extraordinary operations require increased investigative capacity in the Prosecutor's Office to handle suspects detained by the security forces.

7. All entities reflect on our history and long suffering during the Indonesian occupation, so that the fundamental spirit for the development policy for the institutions of PNTL and F-FDTL can truly be that these entities serve the people, not the power interests of a few individuals.

La'o Hamutuk has written this announcement and posted this report as a favor to our next-door neighbor HAK, whose internet and email access is problematic (as it is for nearly everyone in Timor-Leste). Although we were not involved in producing the report, we believe that its contents should be widely read.

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