Aid agency calls for war crimes court on East Timor

 CAFOD called this week for an international tribunal on East Timor. The agency says Indonesia is failing to bring to justice the perpetrators of human rights abuses committed during its 25 year occupation of the island. Theey point out that Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid's recent decree, establishing an ad hoc tribunal for crimes committed in East Timor. allows for prosecution of crimes committed only after the 30 August 1999 independence ballot. This restricted mandate has forced the Attorney General's Office to drop six of the cases it had been preparing for the special court in Jakarta. These include the militia leader Eurico Guterres and General Wiranto, the former armed forces commander. Cases such as the massacre of at least 60 people in Liquica Church in April 1999 will not be investigated. CAFOD has also questioned recent examples of sentencing. The six men accused of killing three UN workers in West Timor last September have recently been sentenced to just 20 months in jail. Catherine Sexton, programme officer for East Timor, said: "It is clear that there is no political will in Jakarta for any serious steps to be taken against those who commit human rights atrocities. Jakarta's efforts on this front have lost all credibility." Sexton worries that the current re-assertion of the power of the Indonesian military, many of whom were responsible for the bloodshed in East Timor, will hamstring any domestic attempts at justice. She said: "One of the best steps towards the development of democracy in the long-run is the promotion of justice and the rule of law. CAFOD is concerned that groups being seen as clearly above and outside the law will affect the development of democratic principles in both East Timor and Indonesia, and will only promote the use of violence in both societies. "It is time for the international community to realise that we can best support these fledgling democracies by bringing to justice those guilty of such atrocities. Indonesia cannot and will not do this itself, and it is time for the establishment of an international tribunal on East Timor."

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