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East Timor reconciliation efforts gain momentum, UN mission says

East Timor reconciliation efforts gain momentum, UN mission says

As part of the ongoing efforts of the United Nations mission in East Timor to resolve the refugee situation, a senior pro-autonomy leader today visited the former militia stronghold of Covalima District, where he met over 200 representatives of the local community.

Helio Moniz's visit to Covalima's capital, Suai, was the latest in a series of efforts by the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) to bring back refugees from West Timor. Mr. Moniz, currently a coordinator of the West Timor-based Forum for Covalima Reconciliation, will leave East Timor tomorrow after a five-day visit.

UNTAET and the East Timorese leadership have in the past organized several "come-and-see" visits for refugees and pro-autonomy leaders, allowing them a first-hand look at the situation in East Timor and a chance to tell others about what they've seen.

Issues discussed during Mr. Moniz's visit included the future Truth, Reception and Reconciliation Commission, to be set up before the end of October 2001.

Meanwhile, three East Timorese members of the Truth and Reconciliation Steering Committee left yesterday for Kupang, West Timor, for a three-day visit to meet pro-autonomy leaders, representatives from the Indonesian local government, the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) and police (POLRI).

The team is discussing terms of references for setting up the Panel Selection Commission, which will choose Reconciliation Commission members.

The Truth, Reception and Reconciliation Commission will undertake two primary functions: to look into the pattern of human rights violations in East Timor committed within the context of the political conflicts between 1974-99, and to 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.

The Panel Selection Commission is expected to be established after the 30 August election and will consist of 12 East Timorese representing pro-autonomy groups, women, youth, the Catholic Church, former political prisoners and political parties.