TO: Members of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights FROM: East Timor Action Network/U.S.
SUBJECT: Recommendations for UN Commission on Human Rights DATE: March 10, 2001
Below is the East Timor Action Network's (ETAN) commentary on developments since the UN Commission on Human Rights
(UNCHR) adopted a Chairman's Statement on East Timor at its 56th session April 25, 2000, followed by ETAN’s
recommendations for the 57th session with regards to East Timor and Indonesia.
BACKGROUND Excerpts from Chairman's Statement on East Timor and developments since then:
* “The Commission welcomed the general progress made and some concrete steps already taken by the Indonesian Government
to investigate fully violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and to bring those responsible to
Virtually no progress has been made by the Indonesian government since last year's session to bring those responsible
for atrocities in East Timor to justice. On the contrary, since that time, the following has happened:
* In August 2000, the Indonesian parliament enacted a constitutional amendment prohibiting retroactivity in prosecutions
and limiting culpability for command responsibility for past crimes against humanity.
* The military faction of the Indonesian parliament not only played a critical role in ensuring the passage of the
constitutional amendment above, but was also able to guarantee 38 parliamentary seats for itself until 2009, giving it a
strong say in any attempt to establish via legislation an ad hoc court to try past crimes.
* To date, no Indonesian military (TNI) personnel have been indicted, much less prosecuted, by Indonesia for atrocities
committed in East Timor, although there is extensive documentation of direct criminal involvement by TNI officers in
1999 and throughout the 24 years of illegal Indonesian occupation of East Timor. In January 2000, the Indonesian Human
Rights Commission (KPP-HAM) named six generals and at least twelve other TNI officers culpable for crimes in East Timor
in 1999. At that time, Attorney General Marzuki Darusman promised that within his office would decide whether to file
charges against military, militia, and political leaders named in its report within three to six months. Thirteen months
later, no charges have been filed against Indonesian officers.
* The very few court cases brought thus far by Jakarta against East Timorese militia leaders deal only with crimes
committed in West Timor during 2000, ignoring pre- and post-referendum violence.
* The Attorney General has named only 22 suspects in his East Timor investigations, none of whom rank higher than a
two-star general, and none have been indicted.
* Many TNI officers responsible for crimes against humanity in East Timor retain positions of prestige and power, able
to continue to wage terror campaigns against the people of Aceh, Papua, Maluku, and other areas of Indonesia.
* “The Commission took note of the agreement between UNTAET and the Indonesian authorities to exchange information
relevant to investigations, prosecutions and trials and welcomed the signature by the Government of Indonesia and UNTAET
of a Memorandum of Understanding envisaging mutual cooperation in legal, judicial and human rights related matters, with
the aim to promote reconciliation and to ensure future social and political stability.”
Since the 56th session, the Indonesian government has refused to honor all extradition requests made by UNTAET. Only a
handful of requests have been made, and the longest-standing was not for an Indonesian official but for East Timorese
militia leader Eurico Guterres, who was recently moved from jail to house arrest in Jakarta. Moreover, UN investigators
who traveled to Jakarta in December 2000 to question Indonesian suspects and witnesses were not permitted to do so
despite the Memorandum of Understanding mentioned above. Although UNTAET investigators have shared information with
their Indonesian counterparts, reciprocity does not occur.
The chief of Indonesia's armed forces, Admiral Widodo, publicly refuses to cooperate with any UN investigations and the
parliament supports this position. It should also be noted that very few, if any, East Timorese would be willing to
travel to Indonesia to testify in trials due to genuine concerns for their own safety and the lack of a functioning
witness protection program in Indonesia.
* “The Commission fully supported the Secretary-General's intention to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations
Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), in accordance with the latter's mandate, to conduct forensic
investigations and to provide assistance to ongoing procedures.”
East Timor's justice system remains severely under-resourced. UNTAET investigations and prosecutions are fraught with
procedural and other problems, including a lack of competence and professionalism. Cultural insensitivity and arrogance
on the part of international UNTAET personnel are ubiquitous. A UN Security Council delegation which visited East Timor
last November noted the under-resourced state of the justice system, the "devastation" of East Timor's infrastructure,
the lack of development progress outside of Dili, and "the small amounts so far expended on reconstruction."
* “The Commission urged a rapid solution of the East Timorese refugees problem in West Timor. The Commission took note
of the decision by the Government of Indonesia to set a deadline and to take all necessary measures for the refugees to
express freely their choice. The Commission noted the positive steps taken by the Government of Indonesia to enhance the
security and the safety in refugee camps… However, the Commission remained concerned at various obstacles, including
intimidation and misinformation by remaining militias in refugee camps, which hampered the safe and voluntary return of
refugees to East Timor. The Commission asked the Government of Indonesia and the international community to continue to
provide relief assistance to the refugees.”
The refugee crisis has worsened since the 56th session. The September 6, 2000 rampage in which militia brutally murdered
three international United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) workers, the worst attack ever on the UNHCR,
occurred while Indonesian police and military stood by and did nothing to stop the violence. Since the killings, there
has been virtually no international presence in the refugee camps, where up to 100,000 East Timorese remain more than
fifteen months after they were forced from their homeland. Armed militia continue to patrol the refugee camps, and
half-hearted efforts by Indonesian authorities to disarm them have been completely ineffective; many believe these
efforts to be an empty gesture to pacify the international community. The UN Security Council delegation to West Timor
found continued intimidation and misinformation by the militias. It called the conditions of the refugees in the
“dilapidated” camps “truly depressing.”
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE 57th SESSION
At last year's Human Rights Commission session, Indonesia’s representative Susanto Sutoyo expressed confidence that his
government’s internal processes would satisfy the requirements of the international community. U.S. representative
Micheal Dennis stated the U.S. sincerely hoped that at the next session of the Commission, it would be able to note
further progress by Indonesia in bringing those responsible for human rights violations in East Timor to justice.
Unfortunately, such progress has not occurred. In fact, as noted above, there has been a turning away from the rule of
law in Indonesia, as the power and influence of the military in Indonesia has increased over the last year.
Consequently, ETAN encourages the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) and its member states to carefully and fully
consider the following:
1. International Tribunal for Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes in East Timor - The UNCHR should call for the
establishment of an international tribunal to try crimes against humanity committed in East Timor, following up on
previous public statements by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and High Commissioner Mary Robinson, as well as the
recommendation of the report of the UN International Commission of Inquiry. The demonstrated inability of both
Indonesian and East Timorese judicial systems to bring Indonesian military and political personnel and militia leaders
to justice should be clearly decried, and the defiant lack of cooperation of the TNI and Indonesian parliament with UN
investigations strongly condemned. If the international community chooses to continue to wait for Indonesia to
prosecute, the UNCHR should set clear deadlines and standards. Failure to meet these criteria would then trigger steps
to set up an international tribunal. Any tribunal should be charged to investigate and prosecute war crimes and crimes
against humanity committed in East Timor from 1975 to the end of 1999.
2. East Timorese Refugees in West Timor - The UNCHR should call for renewed international efforts to resolve the refugee
crisis. It should publicly note the threat to East Timor's peace, security, and integrity caused by the operation of
armed militias with impunity in West Timor, as well as the ongoing humanitarian crisis. The UNCHR must insist on
verifiable disarmament and dissolution of all militias. Militia leaders must be arrested and extradited to East Timor or
to an international court for trial. Indonesia must guarantee the safety of international and local humanitarian workers
in West Timor, ensuring they have unimpeded access to refugees and can supervise in an environment free of fear and
intimidation to enable each refugee to choose whether to return to East Timor or settle in Indonesia.
3. UNTAET's Performance - The UNCHR should review UNTAET's activities in East Timor with an eye toward human rights,
noting positive developments but also encouraging the United Nations to redress problems and allegations of cultural
insensitivity and arrogance among international staff; the need for better training, more resources and simplification
of bureaucratic procedures; and inadequate communication with and delegation of authority to the East Timorese people.
UNTAET should seek ways to work with the people of East Timor to redress these problems and provide additional resources
and better management for East Timor's investigatory and judicial system.
4. Indonesian Security Forces - The UNCHR should condemn ongoing severe human rights violations against civilians by
Indonesian security forces throughout the archipelago, especially in Aceh, West Papua, and Maluku, sending Special
Rapporteurs to investigate the extent of arbitrary execution, arrest and torture in those and other regions. The UNHRC
should support genuine subordination of the Indonesian military to the civilian government. The increase in power of the
military since last year's session should be noted, as well the continued impunity enjoyed by the military, both of
which directly affect East Timor's future security. The UNCHR should call on Indonesia to reduce excessive military
deployments in Aceh, West Papua, and Maluku and for complete withdrawal of inorganic troops from these areas;
dissolution of the territorial command structure; break-up of military control of the economic sector; and the release
of political prisoners.
5. UN Member States’ Culpability -- Member states should examine their own culpability in the 24-year Indonesian
military occupation of East Timor, including their role, if any, in actively arming and training Indonesia's military
and failure to work for implementation of relevant Security Council, General Assembly and UNCHR resolutions. The UNCHR
should encourage nations with information relevant to war crimes and crimes against humanity in East Timor to make it
available to East Timorese and international investigations.