Media Release 20 August 2003

Death of Sergio Vieira de Mello

The Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste (CAVR) expresses great sadness at the loss of a special friend Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello, and wishes to express its condolences to his family and loved ones and to the United Nations.

Mr Vieira de Mello was a great friend to the Timorese people, and to the CAVR. His efforts to assist with the establishment of the CAVR during his tenure as UN Transitional Administrator in Timor-Leste were typical of his far-sighted efforts to build the foundations of peace in countries that have suffered the terrors of war and conflict. His commitment to human rights and the rule of law saw him play a key role in helping to create the CAVR as the first truth commission in Asia.

Aniceto Guterres Lopes, Chairperson of the CAVR, said of Mr Vieira de Mello:

"Sergio came to us always willing to listen, to include people from all walks of life in discussion to build a solid and fair foundation for action. He was always so warm in his work with Timorese, a quality that has endeared him to all, from national leaders to people across the many mountain villages he visited during his time as Transtional Administrator. All Timorese hold his memory dear in our hearts."

When Mr Vieira de Mello assumed the post of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, he demonstrated his ongoing commitment to Timor-Leste when he agreed to serve on the Council of Distinguished Advisors to the CAVR.

"The CAVR will continue to be inspired by the work of the Mr Vieira de Mello, as we work to make a lasting contribution to human rights in our country. We hope that the pain of his family, loved ones and his friends and colleagues in the United Nations might be soothed just a little by knowing how much Mr Vieira de Mello was loved and respected in Timor-Leste, and how his memory will live in our small country forever," said Mr Guterres Lopes.

Mr Guterres Lopes can be contacted through Mr Kieran Dwyer on +670 723 4705 or email <>