MEDIA RELEASE, 15 May 2002


Dili, East Timor

East Timor’s Transitional Administrator and its President-elect have urged the new Regional Commissioners of the country’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation to be independent and strong as they work to help reconcile the nation’s people.

Sergio Vieira de Mello and Xanana Gusmao warned the new Regional Commissioners they might face difficulties and opposition as they undertook the Commission’s work in the districts over the next two years.

But the commissioners should hold onto their principles and maintain their integrity, independence and commitment to human rights, Mr Gusmao said, while Mr Vieira de Mello said the Commissioners had been nominated because people trusted and had confidence in them.

“You have been called to help reconcile the divisions and hurt amongst your people. No task is more… crucial if a society split by terror and politics is to regenerate and become a place where human dignity is respected,” Mr Vieira de Mello said.  

And Mr Gusmao said the Commission’s work would give strength and power to the nation and help it towards unity and peace.

The two national leaders were speaking at the swearing in today by Mr Vieira de Mello of 29 Regional Commissioners for the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor. Under the guidance of the Commission’s seven National Commissioners, the Regional Commissioners will implement the Commission’s inquiries into human rights violations from 1974 to 1999 and community reconciliation processes, working from six regional offices.

Commission chairman and National Commissioner Aniceto Guterres Lopes said although the Commission had undertaken much vital work since its formal beginning on 7 February this year, the swearing of the Regional Commissioners was a further big step forward.

Mr Guterres Lopes reminded a large audience in the auditorium of the former CNRT/UNAMET compound in Dili that the Commission existed for all the people of Timor.

“And these Regional Commissioners, drawn from every district across the country, will be responsible over the next two years for helping the National Commissioners bring the work of the Commission to as many parts of the country as possible – working to help all of East Timor find truth, justice and reconciliation.”

Transitional Administrator Vieira de Mello also congratulated the Commission on selecting 10 women as Regional Commissioners, “exceeding the 30 per cent requirement in the Regulation.”

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