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Last Updated: Monday, 1 August 2005, 07:30 GMT 08:30 UK
E Timor truth commission formed
By Rachel Harvey
BBC News, Jakarta

Domingas Casimira, Wednesday, July 27, 2005 in Dili, East Timor.
Many in East Timor feel justice for the '99 violence is not being done
The Indonesian government has announced the names of the people who will serve on the panel of a special Truth and Friendship Commission for East Timor.

The two countries agreed to work together through this body to investigate the events of 1999 when East Timor voted for independence.

The vote was marred by widespread violence which left around 1,400 people dead and more than 250,000 displaced.

Militias, widely believed to have been backed by Jakarta, went on the rampage.

In the aftermath of the violence in 1999, Indonesia and newly independent East Timor set up parallel systems to prosecute those responsible.

But a recent report by a United Nations panel of experts described those efforts as inadequate, and suggested that an international tribunal may be necessary to ensure justice is done.

The new joint commission is widely seen as a means of forestalling any such move.

Range of expertise

The 10-member panel of the new Truth and Friendship Commission is made up of a mixture of legal experts, human rights figures and at least one retired military commander.

Half are from Indonesia, and half from East Timor. The commission, to be based on the Indonesian island of Bali, will be given free access to legal documents and is expected to conduct interviews in both countries.

However it will not have the power to bring prosecutions, nor is it clear what pressure it will be able to exert on any individual who does not wish to co-operate with its investigations.

As the Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman put it, the commission's remit is to reveal the truth, and promote reconciliation only.

Human rights groups and the Catholic Church in East Timor have criticised the commission as a attempt to bury the past rather than pursue justice.

In a statement, the Church said it could not support what it called the East Timorese government's policy of impunity, and was therefore calling for the continued intervention of the United Nations.

A recent report by a UN panel of experts recommended that a special international war crimes tribunal be established if Indonesia failed to take credible steps to bring to justice those responsible for the violence in 1999.

But both the Indonesian and Timorese governments have rejected that suggestion as unnecessary, saying it was more important for the two neighbours to build a strong relationship for the future.


SEE ALSO:
UN peacekeepers leave East Timor
20 May 05 |  Asia-Pacific
UN team in Jakarta over E Timor
18 May 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia and E Timor heal wounds
09 Apr 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Justice for Timor war criminals?
18 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
East Timor's unfinished business
05 Nov 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: East Timor
13 Nov 03 |  Country profiles
Country profile: East Timor
13 Nov 03 |  Country profiles


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