What is the the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation?

The Commission is an independent, national mechanism which will assist reconciliation between East Timorese and establish the truth about human rights violations committed between 1974 and 1999.  The Commission was initially proposed by CNRT.  It was then developed by a committee comprising representatives of CNRT, six East Timorese NGOs, UNHCR, and the UNTAET Human Rights Unit.  This committee traveled to all the districts to listen to public opinion on the idea of establishing this Commission.  Since then, the National Council has approved the regulation which establishes the Commission.  This has now become the law in East Timor.

Who will be in charge of the Commission?

The Commission will be an independent body headed by 5-7 national commissioners nominated by the people.  The Commissioners will be chosen for their wisdom, integrity, and commitment to human rights principles.  Public nominations will be received by a Selection Panel.  The Commission will also establish up to six regional offices.  Each Regional Office will also be led by Regional Commissioners who are nominated through the same process.

When will this begin?

A Selection Panel for the Commissioners has recently been established.  The Panel will conduct consultations and select the best candidates for the Commission.  Since the time of appointment of Commissioners, the Commission will operate for two years (with a 6-month extension if needed).  At the end of its work, the Commission will make a report and recommendations to the government.  It is expected that the Commission will begin its work towards the end of 2001.

What will the Commission do?

The Commission will have three main functions:

1.  Truth telling

The Commission will seek the truth regarding human rights violations that occurred in East Timor between April 25 1974 and October 25 1999.  The Commission will undertake special investigations and historical research, as well as a nation-wide statement taking process.  To assist in establishing the truth, the Commission will have powers to order persons to give evidence before them.

2.  Community Reconciliation

The Commission is based on the principle that genuine reconciliation requires justice and that individuals must accept responsibility for their actions. People who committed less-serious crimes during 1999 and before this can approach the Commission and ask that these acts be dealt with by the Commission. A panel of local leaders, chaired by a Regional Commissioner, would call together a meeting of the perpetrator, victims and local community members. They would discuss the crimes and propose an agreement whereby the perpetrator could do community work, make a repayment or public apology or undertake other acts of reconciliation. If this process is completed, the District Court will make an order that those acts cannot be prosecuted in the future.

3.  Report and Recommendations

At the end of its work, the Commission will produce a report which will be an important historical record of the extent, causes and accounting of human rights violations which occurred between 1974-1999.   The Commission will make recommendations to the government on legal and institutional reforms to safeguard human rights in the future.

What kind of crimes will the Commission deal with in the community reconciliation process?

The Commission will be able to deal with crimes such as theft, minor assault, burning houses, stealing or killing animals, destroying or stealing crops that occurred in the context of East Timorís political conflict.

How will the Commission deal with serious crimes?

The Commission will not be able to deal with serious crimes such as killing, rape or the organizing of violence through its community reconciliation process. However, the Commission may hear testimonies or receive statements from victims, perpetrators and witnesses in relation to serious crimes through its truth-telling function. Evidence of serious crimes that arises during the Commissionís work will be referred to the courts.

Why does the Commission have the word Reception in its title?

This is because the Commission offers East Timorese who have returned from West Timor or are still there an orderly and peaceful way of being received back into their communities. 

How will the Commission deal with crimes by Indonesia or those living in Indonesia?

The Commissionís jurisdiction is limited to East Timor, but it may hold hearings outside East Timor. It will collect evidence that could be used for prosecution by Indonesia or the international community. 

How will it be funded?

The Commission will be independently funded by international donors, a number of whom have already pledged support.  

How can I participate in the nomination of Commissioners?

You can participate in the nomination process by discussing in your community who should best sit as National and Regional Commissioners.

These people should be chosen for their:

National Commissioners have the overall responsibility for executing the mandate of the Commission.  There will be 5-7 National Commissioners, all Timorese with the possibility of one international Commissioner.  At least 30 % must be women.

Regional Commissioners will mostly be responsible for the community reconciliation process.  You can nominate persons, in your district, whom you think is respected and can be fair.  There will be 25-30 Regional Commissioners.  At least 30 % must be women.

In the month of October 2001, a Selection Panel, made up of men and women representing a broad-spectrum of East Timorese society, will conduct consultations in each district to hear nominations for National and Regional Commissioners.  You can nominate persons during these consultations.  Alternately, you or your organization may send a letter of nomination to the Selection Panel. The Selection Panel will also consult with representatives of East Timorese people who are still in West Timor.

You can contact the Selection Panel through the Interim Office for the Commission at: the old BPG, ex-CNRT complex, Jln Caikoli, Balide, Dili 

Telephone: mobile 0407 394 957; 312210 ext 4513; or through UNTAETís Human Rights Officers in the Districts. 

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