March 15, 2007

Francisco Guterres (Lu’Olo)
President of the National Parliament
National Parliament
Dili
Timor-Leste

Dear Mr. Guterres,

On 28 November 2006, Chega!, the report of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste (CAVR), was launched in the UK Parliament at an event sponsored by our organisations – Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, TAPOL the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign, and Progressio – in conjunction with the all-party Parliamentary Human Rights Group.

The purpose of this event was to acknowledge the very significant achievements of the Commission and to highlight the urgent need for due consideration of the report by the relevant governments and international bodies, as a crucial step towards the achievement of justice for the people of Timor-Leste, which is so long overdue.

Our organisations are very concerned that the National Parliament of Timor-Leste has yet to consider the report formally. As the sponsors of the UK launch, and as long-term campaigners for the human rights of the Timorese people, we urge the National Parliament to schedule the report for formal consideration at the earliest opportunity, and to take primary responsibility for monitoring and overseeing the implementation of key recommendations as proposed by the report. We urge you particularly to provide all possible support to those recommendations pertaining to accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims of grave human rights violations.

Our organisations are deeply impressed by the remarkable achievements of the CAVR in documenting the truth about the widespread and systematic violations of human rights perpetrated between 1974 and 1999. However, the Commission’s report by no means marks the conclusion of the process. The due consideration of the report by relevant parties, and the implementation of
key recommendations relating to human rights, are equally important stages. The need for justice for those people whose experiences are documented in the report has been ignored for too long by their own government and by the international community. The report concludes “that there have been no adequate justice measures for the crimes against humanity committed in Timor-Leste throughout the 25-year mandate period.”

We believe that the culture of impunity which has prevailed in Timor-Leste for the serious human rights violations committed during Indonesia’s 24-year occupation, and in the lead up to and aftermath of the UN-organised popular consultation in 1999, was a contributing factor to last year’s breakdown in law and order in the country. The violence and unrest of recent months have reemphasised the need for those now in power in Timor-Leste to learn the lessons from the CAVR report and to acknowledge and act upon them as a matter of urgency.

Due consideration of the report and the implementation of key recommendations relating to human rights, will help ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated and will play an important part in building a nation based on justice and truth.

We were most encouraged by a message from Prime Minister José Ramos-Horta recorded for the UK launch and for a similar event in Australia. In this message the Prime Minister acknowledged the far-reaching nature of the CAVR’s recommendations and undertook on behalf of the government and the parliament to endeavour to implement the recommendations as far as
possible.

The need for the National Parliament to consider the report at the earliest possible opportunity, is made more urgent by that fact that other key addressees of recommendations in the report –members of the international community, including the UK government and the United Nations– have expressed their intention to defer consideration of the report, and taking action on those recommendations directed at them, until the views of the democratically-elected representatives of the Timor-Leste people are known. It is imperative that the Timor-Leste National Parliament take action as a matter of urgency to consider the report, make a public commitment to supporting the recommendations, and begin the process of their implementation.

The delay in the due consideration of the report of the CAVR, and the subsequent delay in the implementation of its recommendations, are to the detriment of the Timorese people and are a cause for deep concern. Our organisations urge the National Parliament to acknowledge the need of those people for recognition of their experiences and for justice, through an early and thorough consideration of the report.

Please advise us if we can assist the National Parliament in any way in fulfilling its responsibilities concerning the report.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Paul Barber
Tapol, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign

For and on behalf of -

Natalie Hill,
Deputy Programme Director
Asia & Pacific Programme
Amnesty International

Brad Adams
Asia Director
Human Rights Watch

Rod MacLeod
International programmes Director
Progressio

Copies to:
Jacob Fernandes, Vice-President, National Parliament;
Vicente Faria, Chair, Commission A, National Parliament;
Mariano Sabino Lopes, General Secretary PD, c/o National Parliament;
Joao Gonclaves, Partido Social Democrata (PSD), c/o National Parliament;
Arianca Araujo, Vice President and Parliamentary Leader of Partido Nacionalista Timorense (PNT), c/o National Parliament;
Senora Quiteria da Costa, Uniao Democratica Timorense (UDT), c/o National Parliament;
Manuel Tilman, Klibur Oan Timor As’wain (KOTA), c/o National Parliament;
Clementino Amaral, KOTA, c/o National Parliament;
Antonio Ximenes, President, Partido Democrata Cristao (PDC), c/o National Parliament;