UN mission in East Timor moves to set up independent judiciary

The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) is moving forward in its efforts to establish a functioning judicial system in the territory, a UN spokesman said today.
Tomorrow, UNTAET is scheduled to swear in a Transitional Judicial Service Commission to appoint a dozen judges, who will help to establish courts in the territory's districts within a week.

Meanwhile, UN police in East Timor have reported an upswing in crime in the capital, Dili, and have requested additional protective equipment. UNTAET also announced the arrival next week of its first forensic specialist, who will begin work on the mass grave sites in the East Timorese enclave of Ambeno.

In another development, the UN formally took control of Dili Airport on Monday. The first flight, from Indonesia, touched down at 12:40 p.m. and an Australian airline will begin flying three times a week to Darwin, Australia, on 16 January.

Also on Monday, the head of UNTAET, Sergio Vieira de Mello, held discussions with a representative of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry on the opening of an Indonesian Diplomatic Mission in Dili before the expected visit of Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid in late February.

On the refugee front, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that while just over 126,000 East Timorese had returned home, repatriations from West Timor continued to be hampered by militia there.

The Trust Fund for UNTAET now has $8 million, with contributions from Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and Portugal. The money will be used to cover the costs of running the Government until tax revenue can be generated, as well as to fund quick impact projects, as aid in the territory shifts from emergency relief to rehabilitation and development.