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Wednesday, 22 December, 1999, 01:03 GMT
Proposal for Timor tribunal

Investigators examine bones in East Timor Investigators say murder, torture and sexual violence was widespread

By UN correspondent Mark Devenport

A team of United Nations human rights investigators have recommended that a war crimes tribunal for East Timor should be set up if Indonesia's own inquiries into its army's involvement in atrocities there do not produce results within months.

The UN in East Timor The UN investigates reports of a massacre
The investigators say the UN Security Council should consider the establishment of such a tribunal whether Indonesia gives its consent or not.

The three UN special rapporteurs - or investigators - travelled to East Timor in early November but their report to the UN's General Assembly has only just been released.

Human rights violations

They believe it is too early to assess the full extent of human-rights violations in East Timor, but they say it is clear that murder, torture and sexual violence were widespread.

Other recommendations
Indonesia should allow UN access to refugee camps in West Timor
Indonesia must disband militias
UN should be allowed to conduct autopsies and medical examinations
They say evidence of the Indonesian armed forces' involvement in militia violence is already sufficient to incur the responsibility of the government in Jakarta.

If Indonesia's own efforts to investigate its soldiers' involvement in atrocities do not bear fruit within months, the rapporteurs believe the Security Council should consider action.

Indonesian opposition

The rapporteurs argue that an international criminal tribunal similar to the ones already set up to deal with the Balkans and Rwanda could be given jurisdiction over all war crimes committed in East Timor since Indonesia annexed the territory in the 1970s.

Such a move would undoubtedly be strenuously opposed by Indonesia and its allies, who argue that Jakarta's own national commission of inquiry is the proper forum for investigating any complaints against its armed forces.

In their report, the UN rapporteurs also call for full access to be provided to refugees still held in camps in Indonesian West Timor.

They say additional expert staff should be made available to deal with human-rights investigations on the ground in East Timor.

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See also:
18 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesian general to help Timor probe
14 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Wahid: Generals should stand trial
29 Nov 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia 'responsible' for Timor destruction
10 Dec 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Calls for UN tribunal on Timor
27 Oct 99 |  Asia-Pacific
UN wants $200m for East Timor
16 Nov 99 |  Asia-Pacific
UN effort in East Timor under fire

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