Timor-Leste

International Inquiry Panel ends work in East Timor

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The Commission of Inquiry on East Timor wound up its activities in East Timor today, 3 December 1999. The Commission's five members arrived on 25 November and in the past 9 days received information from a wide variety of sources on the possible violations of human rights and acts which may constitute breaches of international humanitarian law committed in East Timor since January 1999.
The Commission members travelled extensively around Dili and surrounding areas to verify material destruction, to hear witnesses, and to collect testimonies and documents. The Commission also travelled to Los Palos, Maliana, Suai and Liquica where especially serious violations of human rights had been reported, in order to collect testimony from those directly affected.

The Commission, overall, heard statements from some 150 individuals. These included East Timorese victims, representatives of East Timorese, international and local human right organizations and individuals who had witnessed violations, for example, former UNAMET staff members and journalists. Special consideration was given to women who wanted to testify before the Commission. The Commission also heard moving accounts from child victims of violations.

The Commission visited Mr. Xanana Gusmao and Bishop Belo in their respective residences. In addition, the Commission was briefed by Mr. Sergio Viera de Mello, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for UNTAET, Mr. Ian Martin, former Special Representative of the Secretary-General for UNAMET, Major General Peter Cosgrove, Interfet Commander, senior police and military officers and with representatives of United Nations agencies in East Timor, including UNICEF, WHO, UNHCR.

The Members of the Commission are: Ms. Sonia Picado (Costa Rica), Chairperson, Ms. Judith Sefi Attah (Nigeria), Justice A. M. Ahmadi (India), Justice Mari Kapi (Papua New Guinea) and Ms. Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (Germany).

The Commission of Inquiry leaves today for Darwin and is scheduled to travel on Sunday to Jakarta for discussions with the Indonesian National Commission of Inquiry and Governmental authorities. It will leave Jakarta for Geneva on Wednesday, 8 December 1999.

The Commission of Inquiry was established following a resolution of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights at a Special Session on 27 September 1999. Its mandate is to gather and compile systematically information on possible violations. The Commission is to report to the Secretary-General by 31 December with its conclusions in order to enable him to make recommendations for future action. The Commission's report will be transmitted to the Security Council, The General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights.