East Timor: National Council sets up truth commission to probe rights violations

East Timor: National Council sets up truth commission to probe rights violations

The National Council of East Timor today unanimously passed an amended regulation on the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission and in a related move asked the United Nations Transitional Administrator to set up a tribunal to prosecute perpetrators of serious human rights violations in the territory.

The Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation will investigate the human rights violations that occurred in the territory between 1974 and 1999 and also create a community reconciliation body to facilitate agreements between local communities and the perpetrators of non-serious crimes and non-criminal acts committed over the same period. According to the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), the regulation stipulates that there can be no further civil or criminal liability for those who comply with the conditions of the Commission.

After acting unanimously on the truth commission, National Council Member Aniceto Guterres proposed a regulation calling on the head of UNTAET, Sergio Vieira de Mello, to take steps to establish an International Tribunal to prosecute those responsible for committing serious human rights violations in the territory. That resolution was also passed unanimously.

The National Council then passed a series of amendments to the regulation that established East Timor's Defence Force in January. These include amendments inserting a preamble that recognizes the important role played by Falantil and prohibiting the defence force from political affiliation.

A proposal to include in the regulation the observation of principles of international human rights law that apply during armed conflict was also passed unanimously.