UNTAET Daily Briefing 08 Mar 2000

Dili, 8 March 2000
Force Commander in Jakarta

SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello has dispatched Force Commander Lt. General Jaime de los Santos, and the director of the Office of Political Affairs, Peter Galbraith, to Jakarta today to meet Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab, the Defense Minister, Juwono Sudarsono, and other senior officers.

In the meeting - to be held tomorrow afternoon - UNTAET will seek action by the Indonesian authorities to stop the recent unlawful incursions into East Timor, and will stress that it is Indonesia's responsibility to stop these incursions.

On the way back, UNTAET team will stop in Kupang for a meeting with Major General Kiki Syhnakri, the commander of West Timor.

New militia incidents

A UN observation helicopter flying at noon yesterday over the district of Ermera spotted three huts burning in a village 6 kilometers west of Atsabe.

A group of 15 men carrying machetes and spears were seen leaving the site. Shortly afterwards, in a nearby village, more huts were burning and the Peacekeeping troops saw at least two men running away from the scene.

According to the local population, the men in question were militia.

Peacekeeping officials believe that the militia group that attacked three farmers in Atsabe on March the 5th, and exchanged fire with UN troops the next day, are still in the area.

As a result of this recent militia activity in Sector Central, the threat level has been raised in the Ainaro district from low to medium, and in the Ermera district from medium to high. The threat level in Sector West was raised to high on March the 3rd.

11 Quick Impact Projects

The Development Unit of UNTAET approved eleven Quick Impact Projects for five districts of East Timor - Lautem, Ainaro, Oecussi, Manufahi, and Viqueque. The total budget is about US$160,000 and will benefit thousands of people.

The main goal of the Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) is to provide a rapid response in meeting urgent community needs. The basic objectives are to provide immediate employment opportunities and inject cash in the economy. QIPs should be sustainable and labor intensive.

These projects should start during the month of March.

The projects include rehabilitation of school buildings, water infrastructure, road clearance and maintenance of public property, family latrine distribution, cleaning water drains and public places, and drainage cleaning campaign.

International Women's Day

SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello repeated today UNTAET's intention to guarantee an adequate proportion of women in the new civil service and police of East Timor, during a town hall meeting to mark the International Women's Day in Dili.

The speakers also included José Ramos-Horta of CNRT, Lucia Lobato of the Transitional Judicial Services Commission, Sidney Jones, the Head of UNTAET Human Rights Division, Maria Domingas Fernandes, Executive Director of Fokupers, Sister Lourdes of ISMAIK orphanage, and Sharon Scharfe, UNTAET Gender Affairs Advisor.

The SRSG said that UNTAET will follow-up the Secretary-General Kofi Annan's requests for the creation of a Crisis Center for women and a support group for widows and orphans.

Timorese Women's Group Fokupers organized the meeting with the support of UNTAET and UNICEF, as one event of a daylong program, which included a drawing competition for children.

The Timorese NGO East Timor Women Against Violence (ET-WAVE) distributed clothing to 40 families headed by women.

This was the first commemoration of the International Women's Day in East Timor where Timorese women were able to celebrate their day free of interference and intimidation.

Women represent 57 per cent of the population of East Timor, and they have suffered in the past years directly as victims of rape, forcible sterilization, torture and death, but also as their husbands, brothers and sons were killed, tortured or missing.

Today, groups like Fokupers, Gertak, ET-WAVE, and Organization of Timorese Women (OMT) are leading projects that empower women through employment - sewing cooperative project in Dili - or taking initiative to protect themselves from domestic violence.

Although far from being equally represented, Timorese women are getting involved in the political life of the territory through participation in a number of bodies including the National Consultative Council (three out of 11 Timorese members) and the Transitional Judicial Services Commission (one out of three Timorese). A woman successfully (Isabella Ferreira) heads the East Timor Human Rights Commission, while three women were among the first ten judges and prosecutors to be appointed in East Timor.

UNTAET has recently appointed a Gender Affairs Advisor whose main focus will be the promotion of women's role in the society. Gender Affairs Advisor will work closely with CivPol in raising awareness of violence and crimes against women, and having women participating in the new Timorese Police Service; gender equality and education materials.

Regulation on courts signed

Following its adoption by the National Consultative Council on Monday, March the 6th, SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello signed yesterday Regulation 2000/11 on the Organization of Courts in East Timor.

The regulation establishes that judges (appointed according to Regulation 1999/3) will perform their duties independently and impartially and in accordance with applicable laws in East Timor.

The regulation further determines that, while in office, judges and prosecutors will be barred from accepting political or any other public office or employment, including teaching law, participating in drafting of law, or carrying out legal research on a part-time basis, unless for honorary unpaid purposes.

Judiciary of the country will eventually be composed of District Courts, and one Court of Appeal. Eight District Courts will be established - in Dili, Baucau, Los Palos, Viqueque, Same, Maliana, Ermera and Oecussi.

The District Court of Dili will have exclusive jurisdiction over serious criminal offenses such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, murder, sexual offenses, and torture, committed in the period between 1 January and 25 October 1999.

During the transitional period, the working languages of the courts will be, as appropriate, Tetum, Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesia, and English.

Assessment of penitentiary system

Two new Zealand Prison Service officials are in East Timor to help UNTAET conduct an assessment of the needs for establishment of a sustainable penitentiary system. They assess the current situation and inspect prisons in Gleno and Becora, before making final recommendations to UNTAET Judicial Affairs Department.

Today, the two experts were in Gleno inspecting a prison building that is being discussed as a possible prison facility for convicted criminals, while former Becora prison in Dili is being considered as a detention facility.

UNTAET is currently talking to the governments of Malaysia, Portugal, Australia and New Zealand about their possible contributions in prison personnel and donations for refurbishing of prisons.