CAVR Media Release 12 March 2004

CAVR Public Hearing on Self-Determination and the International Community

The Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste (CAVR) will hold a national public hearing on Self-Determination and the International Community at its national headquarters in Dili from 15-17 March 2004.

CAVR Chairperson, human rights lawyer Aniceto Guterres Lopes, spoke of the aims of the hearing:

“The hearing will focus on the right of self-determination which was fundamental to the political conflict in Timor-Leste and the violations that occurred. We are looking at the role of the international community because the conflict in Timor was not only internal struggle, but an international struggle and cause. Positions taken by international institutions during the 24 years of the conflict were central to what happened in Timor-Leste throughout this time and the ultimate outcome.”

The right of self-determination is enshrined in the UN Charter, is Common Article 1 in the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, and as such imposes certain obligations on the international community, both in relation to Timor-Leste’s recent colonial past and also in respect of its future, politically, economically and culturally. The hearing will therefore examine whether the international community, in principle and practice, complied with its obligation to uphold this right.

The CAVR will hear from three types of witnesses. Testimony about the role of governments, including the UN and key members states with a focus on Australia, Indonesia, Portugal and the USA. Testimony about the role of international civil society. And testimony from Timorese in the diaspora during the 24 year period of the CAVR mandate.

Mr Ian Martin, former head of UNAMET which conducted the 1999 popular consultation, and Mr Francesc Vendrell will testify as to the role of the United Nations. Mr Kenneth Chan, former Foreign Affairs officer, will testify as to the policy of the Australian government and Mr David Scott, AO, will provide an analysis of the role of the Australian government.

Those testifying about the international movement on Timor-Leste include Mr Arnold Kohen (USA), Indonesian human rights activists Ms Yeni Rosa Damayanti and Mr Nugroho Katjasungkana and Ms Louisa Teutonia Pereira of Portugal.  Timorese from the diaspora who will give testimony include Mr Abel Guterres, now Timor-Leste’s Consul-General in Sydney and Ms Filomena de Almeida who lived in Portugal, Mozambique and Australia after fleeing Timor-Leste in 1975.

The hearing will further the CAVR’s objectives of public education on human rights, promote a process of learning lessons from the past and promote reconciliation through truth. It will be televised live throughout the capital Dili and radio broadcast live across the country. The CAVR is due to publish its final report in October 2004.

A full list of those testifying, with background notes, is attached. For further information, or to arrange interviews, please contact Kieran Dwyer at the CAVR on 723 4705 or by email: CAVR website at