MEDIA RELEASE, 15 February 2002



The seven National Commissioners of East Timorís Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation have warmly welcomed the grant of US$ 1 million by the Japanese Government to the Commission.

At yesterdayís meeting of the Commissioners, the Chair, Mr. Aniceto Guterres Lopes, described the grant as ďa timely and extremely generous contribution to reconciliation in East Timor by the people and Government of Japan.Ē  Mr. Guterres Lopes has written to the Japanese Government expressing the Commissionersí deep appreciation for the grant, and asking for the Japanese governmentís understanding on the need for flexibility on expenditure guidelines to meet the Commissionís many obligations.  Mr. Guterres Lopes has also expressed his gratitude to Xanana Gusmao for his efforts in securing the grant, the first tranche of which is expected to be transferred through UNTAET by the end of March.

As a further indication of international interest in the Commission, members of the German Parliament met with Commissioners on 13 February.  Germany is a major contributor to the European Commission (EC), which has already made a firm pledge of support to the Commission.  Funding is still being sought for approximately half of the Commissionís budget of US$ 3.8 million for two years.

Commissioners discussed at the meeting the urgent need for a public education program to inform the community about the objectives and functions of the Commission.  The Commissionís Public Information and Community Outreach Unit is tasked with drawing up a strategic plan, which will include ideas for a logo, theme and song for the Commission.

In a step towards commencement of the Commissionís substantive work in the areas of truth-seeking and community reconciliation, the National Commissioners are exploring the possibility of conducting one or more pilot projects before 20th May, the day of East Timorís independence.  Reports are being prepared on the feasibility of a number of possible cases.  The pilot projects will be an integral part of a three-month strategic plan currently being developed by the Commission.

Following recent visits by Commissioners and staff to Oecussi, Atauro, and sub-districts in Dili, Mr. Guterres Lopes will travel to Kupang on 25th February for a forum on reconciliation and justice issues.

For further information, or to arrange interviews, please contact Lamartinho de Oliveira (Mobile: 0408 731 103) or Jane Alexander (Mobile: 0407 976 935) at the National Office of the Commission in Balide, Dili.

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