Global Policy Forum

Indonesia Criticizes UN Chief

July 31, 2007

Indonesia's Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda has criticized UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon over his stance on the truth commission probing human rights abuses related to East Timor's 1999 vote for independence, a local media report said Tuesday. Ban told United Nations officials last week not to testify before the Indonesia-East Timor Commission of Truth and Friendship unless the commission drops its recommendation that those responsible for serious crimes be amnestied. "The UN has to realize this is a reconciliation process and not a prosecutorial one," The Jakarta Post quoted Wirajuda as saying in Manila, where he is attending an annual series of meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. "We never forced Timor-Leste (East Timor) to agree, but they realized it was important to solve our past problems without sacrificing our friendship and cooperation," he added.

Wirajuda argued that the UN so far has not offered an alternative to settle the past problems involving East Timor and Indonesia. He added the strict prosecutorial approach applied by the United Nations in similar cases elsewhere in the world has failed to address issues of impunity and to solve problems comprehensively. The Indonesia-East Timor Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF), similar to South Africa's post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission, had been scheduled to conclude its job in August after it was extended for one year in 2006. But the two countries agreed last month to extend the mandate for another six months to allow the commission to work until February 2008.

Unlike the one in South Africa, the CTF has no decision-making power and cannot prosecute anyone. The commission can only make recommendations to parliaments of both sides. It recommends amnesty to those found responsible for committing gross human rights violations. Human-rights groups have criticized the commission because it lacks the ability to bring senior members of the Indonesian Armed Forces to justice for ordering military-backed militias to massacre Timorese civilians and raze villages. Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and occupied the former Portuguese colony for 24 years. As many as 200,000 civilians died during that period.

More Information on International Justice
More Information on the Ad-Hoc Court for East Timor
More Information on East Timor


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