MEDIA RELEASE, 9 April 2002

RECONCILIATION COMMISSION MOVING TO SET UP IN REGIONS

Dili, East Timor

A commission created to help refugees reconcile with their communities back home in East Timor is in the process of selecting the people who will carry out its work in villages and towns across the country.

The Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation - conceived by Timorese to encourage all parties to acknowledge past wrongs and reconcile Ė has sent representatives to districts across the country to choose the organisationís first Regional Commissioners.

ďWe have been given a task that is very important to reconciliation in our country, we are moving as fast as we can to implement the mechanisms needed - and it is a great step forward to start selecting our representatives across the nation,Ē said the Commissionís chairman, human rights lawyer Aniceto Guterres Lopes, this week in Dili.

Mr. Guterres Lopes was speaking on behalf of the organisationís seven National Commissioners, who were appointed on 21 January and include a former political prisoner, a former civil servant under the Indonesian regime, and priests from the Catholic and Protestant Churches.

The Commission has already interviewed Regional Commissioner candidates in East Timorís Manatuto, Baucau, Los Palos and Viqueque districts, and plans to conduct further interviews in coming days in the Dili, Liquica and Oecussi districts.

The Commissionís functions include: supporting the reintegration of less-serious offenders into their communities through community-based reconciliation mechanisms; documenting the nature of and reasons for human rights violations in East Timor between 1974 and 1999; and recommending ways to prevent future human rights violations.

(ends)

Media contacts at the Commission:

Bahasa Indonesia, Portuguese, Tetum: Lamartinho de Oliveira,  0408 086 407

English, Japanese:  John Rouw,  0410 551 559

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