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Caritas says international court 'crucial' for East Timor

Establishment of an international criminal tribunal in East Timor is necessary for justice and reconciliation, says Caritas Australia.

"The establishment of a modern legal system will be crucial for the provision of justice to the victims of crimes against humanity, as well as the future development needs of the country," says Caritas national director, Jack de Groot.

Caritas Australia currently runs a number of development programs in East Timor, including the Human Rights Law and Justice Program.

The agency continues to push for the establishment of an International Criminal Tribunal so that justice may be achieved.

An estimated 200,000 people died in East Timor between the Indonesia invasion and occupation in 1975 and East Timor's vote for independence in 1999.

More than 1000 people were killed in the aftermath of the referendum. Rape and other human rights abuses were also committed by the militias, who were financed and trained by the Indonesian military.

The actions of the Indonesian military in East Timor were a repudiation of the Security Council mandate of UNAMET (the United Nations Mission in East Timor) and the tripartite agreement between Portugal, Indonesia and the Timorese Council for National Resistance brokered by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The intervention of the international community is paramount as East Timor suffers from a lack of resources to mount criminal trials, while action taken on the part of Indonesia has been token.

Caritas has given its support to a conference in East Timor to study the need for an international tribunal. With other aid agencies in Australia, it continues to call on the Australian government to take a leading role on the issue.

Caritas Australia
No automatic amnesty, says East Timor bishop (The Universe)

Catholic Weekly

19 Jul 2002