Excerpt from Suara Timor Lorosae, December 15, 2001

Statement of SRSG Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello to the Donors Conference in Oslo, Norway:

    "... One of the many positive outcomes of the success of the 30 August election was the acceleration of refugee returns.  As the Secretary-general has earlier noted, over 190,000 refugees have returned, but another 60,000 or so have not yet done so.  The East Timorese leadership is encouraging all Timorese to return to contribute to rebuilding of the nation and healing the wound of the past, and Xanana Gusmão has made a great personal contribution in his work with the refugees.  While many of those across the border now understand that East Timor is safe and stable and see the falsehood behind the propaganda of those who want to block their return, fear of retribution and uncertainty about access to Indonesian pension entitlements continue to hold them back.

    The East Timorese people have demonstrated an immense capacity to welcome back their people and to forgive past wrongs.  But for those suspected of the most serious crimes, they also want to see justice.  As you are aware, an independent national Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor was recently established to tackle the critical issue of reconciliation that is vital to securing a stable future for the country.  It will work to establish the truth about human rights violations committed during the conflict in East Timor.  I would like to express my thanks to donors who have contributed generously to this important initiative.

    These contributions are being used for the start-up phase of the Commission and we continue to seek further support for its future activities.

    A small number of returnees are persons whom the East Timorese have asked to see immediately arrested and brought to justice.  To ensure refugee returns can continue and the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation can accomplish its goal of reconciliation with justice, the Serious Crimes Unit has established mechanisms to work closely with the communities of East Timor, the Reconciliation Commission, UNHCR, UNTAET's Human Rights Unit, and CivPol among others.  This coordinated approach is facilitating the early identification and charging of those suspected of crimes so grave that reconciliation is not the best or the most effective answer.  Xanana and my Chief of Staff, Param, have been working hard with the Indonesian authorities at facilitating the return of such persons, with credible assurances that the judicial process will be fair.

    Funding for the Serious Crimes Unit under UN assessed contributions during the follow-on mission after independence will enable the Unit to continue to gather information, produce indictments and train the East Timorese in these difficult tasks.  However, immediate prosecution of suspects will depend on the resources available to and the functioning of the developing national court system, including the training of judges and defense counsel to ensure prosecutions are made with recognized standards of due process in place.  Only with a well functioning justice system can reconciliation be successful in East Timor.

    To date, 33 indictments have been issued charging 82 individuals with various crimes.  Eleven individuals have been convicted of various crimes, and one of those cases has been upheld on final appeal (mention Los Palos).  The first indictments were issued much faster and at significantly less cost than was the case in either Arusha or The Hague.  It is important that this process is further cemented."

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