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Flag of East Timor
BASIC INFORMATION

Full Country Name: Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (commonly known as East Timor)


Country Profile: East Timor

Map of East Timor
Area: 7,400 sq. miles; 18,899 sq. kilometres
Population: 925,000 estimate
Capital City: Dili
People: The main ethnic group is the self-designated Tetum people who number around 300,000. The most notable of the other ethnic groups are: the Mambai, the Makasai, the Kemak, the Galoli, the Tokodede, the Bunak, and the Fataluku, all with their own languages.
Languages: Official languages: Tetum and Portuguese; Also spoken: Bahasa Indonesia and English
Religion: Predominantly (over 90%) Catholic plus small Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist communities
Currency: US Dollar
Major Political Parties: FRETILIN - Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, PD - Democratic Party, PSD - Social Democratic Party, ASDT - Timorese Social Democratic Association
President: Mr Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao
Prime Minister and Minister for Defence: Dr. Jose Ramos Horta
Minister of State, Foreign Affairs and Co-operation: Dr Jose Luis Guterres
Economic Information: See below
Membership of International Groupings: UN; World Bank; International Monetary Fund; Asian Development Bank; Non Aligned Movement (NAM); INTERPOL; Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP).

GEOGRAPHY

Timor is an island a thousand miles south of the Philippines and about 400 miles north-west of Australia. Timor is approximately 185 miles long and 45 miles wide. East Timor occupies the eastern half of the island, and has a boundary with West Timor, which is part of Indonesia. The enclave of Oecussi-Ambeno, which on its land side is surrounded by West Timor, is also part of East Timor.

HISTORY

Portuguese contact with Timor dates from between 1512-20. In the 17th Century Timor was disputed between the Netherlands and Portugal. The two colonial powers divided the island; the Netherlands took the western half which became part of the Dutch East Indies and later Indonesia; the eastern half (and Oecussi-Ambeno) became a Portuguese colony in 1702. East Timor remained under Portuguese rule until 1974-75 when the Portuguese colonial Empire disintegrated. The East Timorese hoped that the collapse of Portuguese authority would end colonial rule. The two main parties favouring independence - the Uniao Democratica de Timor (UDT) and Frente Revolucionaria de Timor Leste (FRETILIN) - bitterly opposed each other and the territory gradually subsided into civil war. On November 1975 FRETILIN made a unilateral declaration of independence. Jakarta, fearing that FRETILIN represented the potential of a communist influenced state in Indonesia's midst, had initially supported the Associaco Popular Democratica de Timor (APODETI). APODETI, which favoured East Timor's integration into Indonesia, initially had little support but gained some UDT backing following FRETILIN's UDI. Indonesia now took more assertive action: in December 1975 its troops launched a full-scale invasion. In the ensuing violence and chaos, including famine, an estimated 100,000-200,000 East Timorese died.

The UK never recognised Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor and supported UN Security Council Resolutions condemning the invasion. Following the resignation of Indonesian President Suharto in May 1998, Suharto's successor, B J Habibie, agreed that the people of East Timor would be given a chance to vote on the future of their territory. They were not offered the option of independence directly. Instead, they were given the chance to accept or reject a package, which would have given the territory a large measure of autonomy within Indonesia. The United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) organised a ballot on 30 August 1999. Following a 98.5% turn out, 78.5% of the population voted against autonomy and so implicitly in favour of independence. Violence by the pro-integrationist militia groups was widespread before and after the ballot but escalated on 4 September. Despite the declaration of martial law, militia activity continued amid allegations of collusion between the militia and some elements of the Indonesian military. The militias forced a large number of East Timorese civilians into West Timor and widespread burning and looting took place. Many more took to the hills. After considerable international pressure the Indonesian president accepted the deployment to East Timor of a multi-national force under UN auspices (INTERFET) to restore order, and subsequently also renounced Indonesian claims to East Timor. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1272 of 25 October 1999 established the United Nations Transitional Administration of East Timor (UNTAET) and gave it responsibility for administering East Timor and preparing it for self-government. On 20 May 2002 the UN handed over control to the first democratically elected government of East Timor and UNTAET gave way to the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET). UNMISET was established by UN Security Council Resolution 1410, initially until May 2002 but later extended to May 2003, to assist the East Timorese government with core administrative functions, and to provide interim internal and external security. The UNSC agreed in May 2004 to further extend the mandate of UNMISET for a period of 6 months, with a view to subsequently extending the mandate for a further and final period of 6 months, until May 2005. In May 2005 the UN Security Council passed resolution 1599 establishing a UN Office in Timor Leste (UNOTIL) with a mandate until 20 May 2006. However, following a crisis in April/May 2006, the Security Council agreed to an extension of UNOTIL until 25 August 2006. On this day Security Council Resolution 1704 established a new UN mission in East Timor – UNMIT – United Nations Integrated Mission in East Timor. The mandate of this mission includes bringing about a process of national reconciliation, the restoration and maintenance of public security (partly through the provision of 1600 police officers, of which almost 1000 were deployed by November 2006), as well as supporting the presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in 2007.

Recent Chronology

  • 1974: Following a change of government, Portugal acknowledges the right of the colonial territories under its administration to self-determination.

  • 1975: In August the UDT mounts a pre-emptive coup against Portuguese authority and FRETILIN; East Timor slides into civil war between the parties favouring independence (but also including APODETI in support of the UDT). The Portuguese administrators withdraw to Atauro island off he capital, Dili. FRETILIN gain the upper hand and, in November, make a Unilateral Declaration of Independence. The UDT and APODETI oppose this.

  • On 7 December Indonesian “volunteers” cross the border to assist the UDT/APODETI, followed by a full-scale military invasion

  • 22 December 1975: Adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 384 calling on all States to respect the territorial integrity of East Timor and on Indonesia to withdraw its forces from the territory.

  • 1976: Indonesia annexes East Timor as its twenty-seventh province. Many killed in the violence and famine that followed.

  • 12 November 1991: Indonesian forces open fire in the Santa Cruz cemetery killing up to 200 East Timorese.

  • 1 October 1996: Bishop Carlos Belo and exiled activist Jose Ramos Horta receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • 21 May 1998 President Suharto falls.

  • 7 May 1999: Adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1236 welcoming the conclusion of an agreement between Indonesia and Portugal on a framework for consulting the people of East Timor.

  • 11 June 1999: Adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1246 establishing the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET).

  • 30 August 1999: Nearly 99% turn out for East Timor Popular Consultation.

  • 4 September 1999: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announces 78.5% of East Timorese voted for independence. Followed by widespread violence by pro-integrationist militia groups.

  • 6 September 1999: Militia violence begins in earnest; a huge proportion of the population displaced; refugees flee.

  • 15 September 1999: Adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1264 approving multi-national peacekeeping force for East Timor.

  • 20 September 1999: Multinational force enters East Timor to restore order.

  • 22 October 1999: Adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1272 establishing the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

  • 26 October 1999: UN takes direct responsibility for East Timor.

  • 6 September 2000: Three UNHCR workers killed in Atambua, West Timor.

  • 30 August 2001: First democratic elections for the Constituent Assembly.

  • 15 September 2001: Inauguration of the Constituent Assembly.

  • 14 March 2002: Start of the Ad Hoc Tribunal for East Timor in Jakarta

  • 22 March 2002: Adoption of the Constitution

  • 14 April 2002: Presidential election

  • 17 May 2002: Adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1410 establishing the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET)

  • 20 May 2002: Official handover of sovereignty from UNTAET to East Timor government, and celebration of Independence. UNMISET mandate begins.

  • 27 September 2002: East Timor becomes 191st member of the United Nations

  • 9 April 2007: Presidential Election.

This is an external link BBC Monitoring Timeline

POLITICS

Elections

Peaceful elections for a Constituent Assembly took place on 30 August 2001 (the second anniversary of the Popular Consultation vote in 1999). Voters elected 88 members (one from each of 13 districts on a first past the post basis, and 75 nationally by proportional representation). The largest party, FRETILIN (Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor) won 55 of the 88 seats in the Constituent Assembly with a share of the national vote of 57.37%. The newly founded Democratic Party (PD) won seven seats, the Social Democrats (PSD) six, and the FRETILIN split-off Timorese Social Democratic Association (ASDT) also six. Eight other parties won one or two seats apiece, giving a total of twelve parties represented in the Assembly. Women won twenty-three of the seats (27%). The total number of eligible voters was 421,018, with a turn out of 91.3%.

The Constituent Assembly was inaugurated on 15 September 2001. Xanana Gusmao, the father of the East Timor independence movement, won the presidential election held on 14 April 2002. The UN handed over sovereignty to the East Timorese on 20 May 2002. Ben Bradshaw, the then Foreign Office Minister for Asia, represented the United Kingdom at the independence celebrations.

The Presidential Elections took place on 9 April 2007. The elections are the first national-level polls to be held since independence in 2002. Eight presidential candidates stood for election. President Xanana Gusmão did not seek re-election but created a new party, the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT), which will compete in the coming Parliamentary elections. No candidate obtained an absolute majority in the first round, a run-off will be held between the top two candidates on 9 May. Parliamentary elections will to take place later this year.

Political Situation

The political situation in East Timor changed significantly in April/May of 2006 after a series of crises led the President to declare Emergency Powers on 30 May 2006. Although the situation has stabilised since that time, politically East Timor has not yet fully returned to normal business; there is still a foreign military intervention force in Dili, and national security institutions are not functioning, 10s of 1000s of Dili residents are still in IDP camps both inside and outside of the capital and the new Prime Minister is not from the majority party in parliament.

On 28 April 2006 a demonstration by soldiers who had left the army earlier in the year over grievances, and subsequently been dismissed, turned violent. The local police force (PNTL) fled the area leaving the demonstrators to attack government buildings. Later that day the Army (F-FDTL) were brought on to the streets to restore order, mainly against their former comrades who were accommodated in Tasi Tolu. Although the situation stabilised temporarily, law and order finally started to break down in the capital following the FRETILIN party congress (17-19 May 2006) and the first shots being fired on 23 May allegedly by Alfredo Reinado’s group of military and police deserters. A further three days of continuing attacks and counter-attacks between the police and the army occurred, with an Australian led intervention force arriving at the request of the East Timorese Government in Dili on 25 May. During this time the UN led a delegation of unarmed PNTL officers out from their headquarters to safety, however, they were fired upon by elements of FDTL killing 10 national police officers and injuring 27.

Once the Joint Task Force (JTF) made up of Australian, New Zealand, Portuguese and Malaysian arrived in Dili, the Army (F-FDTL) retired to barracks and the police (PNTL) stayed at home or dispersed to the districts. During this time also the President, Xanana Gusmao and the Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri were in dispute over authority for the security of the country and politically it was a time of stalemate: parliament did not function for many weeks. Ultimately the Prime Minister resigned his post and was replaced by the then Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos Horta. Mr Horta is not a FRETILIN party member, the majority party in parliament, but he made few changes to the cabinet already in place. This was seen as a compromise but one that was weak politically. Two Deputy Prime Ministers were appointed.

An uneasy calm was restored but was soon shattered by a pattern of house burnings, gang fights and intimidation of certain ethnic groups. With some political manipulation the populace were polarised into Easterners (Lorosae) from the three districts of Baucau, Viqueque and Lautem, and Westerners (Lorumonu) from the other then districts of East Timor. The gang violence increased over the next few weeks and was widely believed to be a mixture of East-West reprisals and politically motivated attacks. Gang fighting was commonplace until late October, but although there are still some localised incidents in certain neighbourhoods, simultaneous attacks in multiple locations across town appear largely to have ceased.

Early on in the crisis the Government requested the United Nations launch a commission of inquiry into the events of April and May. The Commission of Inquiry’s report was made public on 2 October 2006. It recommends proceeding with the prosecution of former Minister of Interior Rogerio Lobato on charges that he was responsible for arming civilians, as well as recommending that former Prime Minister Alkatiri is investigated further on similar charges. The report condemns F-FDTL and police commanders for their respective roles in the events of April and May, and names scores of people that should be prosecuted or further investigated for their role.

A number of peace and reconciliation efforts are underway, including a dialogue process that falls within the President’s sphere of activity, and the government’s Simu Malu (‘mutual acceptance’) programme, which is a framework to assist the return home of the internally displaced, including the provision of temporary housing for those whose homes were destroyed in the crisis. The European Union is funding the so-called high level dialogue, that involves members of the Club of Madrid in facilitation visits.

As recent events have demonstrated, national politics in East Timor are characterised by potentially deep divisions even though most of the key actors belong to a relatively small and inter-connected group. Its older members can recall Portuguese colonial rule and the historic and cultural ties that went with it and wish to see these reflected (e.g. through language) in the shape of the new state; they also had personal experience of the traumatic events of 1975-76 when civil war was overlaid by both invasion, famine and huge loss of life. The younger generation's perceptions are influenced more by experience of Indonesian rule: they too wish to distance themselves from Jakarta's influence but are, in practice, more at home with its key linkages such as the use of Bahasa and Indonesian educational standards. Another potential friction is between those who endured first hand Indonesian oppression and those who worked for the East Timor cause from exile. The fact that it is these returnees who have many of the educational and practical skills that are required to make East Timor function as an independent state sharpens this twist.

Of around 23,000 East Timorese refugees still in West Timor, about 12,000 have been resettled, either in other islands of Indonesia or in districts of West Timor. Around 18,000, including an estimated 3,000 former militia, remain in areas near the border. Some of these former militia are thought to be responsible for incursions across the border in January and February 2003 which resulted in eight people being killed. The attacks are just as likely to have been motivated by criminal gain as a desire for revenge as poverty and unemployment are very high.

The EU has supported a €6 million programme with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and it invested a further €2 million in 2004 in order to find a durable solution for these former refugees.

ECONOMY

Basic Economic Facts

GDP: US$210m (2002 estimate)
GDP per capita: Estimates vary from US $200-500
Major Exports: Coffee, timber.

The East Timorese government faces an uphill struggle in developing the country's economy. East Timor is one of Asia's poorest countries. GDP decreased by 2% in 2002, and again by 2% in 2003. 40% of East Timorese live on less than US $0.55 per day and the average life expectancy is 57 years. The economy is predominantly agricultural and the majority of people live in rural areas. This sector was particularly affected by a severe drought in 2002 and early 2003, which resulted in an extremely poor harvest in 2003. The only significant export is coffee, which by virtue of its organic credentials is withstanding depressed world prices better than others. The small private sector caters mainly for the UN and the donor community, which will inevitably decline with the reduction in the UN presence. The revenue base is low and there is no effective internal market. About 80% of the infrastructure was destroyed during the post-ballot violence of 1999, but is gradually being rebuilt. Less than half the population is literate. There are huge skills gaps. The birth rate is the highest in the region. Unemployment and underemployment are high, and there is little prospect of this improving in the short term. However, 70% of school age children are now attending school.

In May 2002 donors pledged USD $440 million over three years to fund government expenditure. The future of East Timor is dependent upon revenue from Timor Sea oil and gas exploitation but this revenue is not expected fully to meet budgetary requirements until 2007/8. At the Donor Conference in Dili in June 2004, the East Timorese government asked donor countries for pledges of additional aid to help them bridge this funding gap.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

For geographical and historical reasons, links with Australia and Portugal are particularly strong but other countries such as Japan, the UK, the USA, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand have also played significant roles.

Good relations with Indonesia are vital for East Timor. The two countries have established a Joint Ministerial Commission for Bilateral Co-operation to address social and border issues, co-operation on trade and finance, educational and cultural affairs, transport and telecommunication as well as legal matters. A land border agreement covering 96% of the border with Indonesia was signed in April 2005. Prime Minister Alkatiri visited Indonesia in October 2004 to attend the new President’s inauguration.

East Timor has signalled its wish to join ASEAN (the South East Asian grouping), and expects to sign a Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in December 2006, and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). It participated as an observer in the third Summit of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States held in Fiji in July 2002, the Pacific Island Forum in August 2006, and acceded to the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement in 2003. It became a member of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) on 24 February 2003.

This is an external link Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation East Timor

East Timor's Relations with the UK

The UK is committed to working with the East Timorese government, the UN and other international donors to ensure East Timor's future stability and prosperity.

The UK was instrumental in sending a UN Security Council delegation to Jakarta and East Timor in September 1999. That visit and interventions by Robin Cook, the then Foreign Secretary, and the Prime Minister, along with US President Clinton persuaded Indonesia to accept the deployment of a multinational force to East Timor (INTERFET). British Gurkhas were amongst the first wave of INTERFET troops to arrive in East Timor. Former Foreign Office Minister, Ben Bradshaw MP attended the Independence celebrations on 20 May 2002. Prime Minister Alkatiri visited the UK from 16-18 March 2005, President Xanana Gusmao visited from 12-17 October 2003 and Dr Ramos Horta visited from 7 – 11 June 2004.

Diplomatic Representation

The UK opened an office in East Timor in January 2000 and this was upgraded to an Embassy on 20 May 2002. Following a review of the FCO’s global network by the Secretary of State it was decided in December 2004 that the Embassy in Dili should close in July 2006. This was postponed until 14 October 2006. The East Timorese have representation at the UN in New York, and in Lisbon, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Canberra, Sydney, Brussels, Maputo and Beijing. They are planning to open missions in Tokyo and Bangkok. Consulates-General in Bali and Kupang have been opened.

UK Development Assistance

The UK has played a leading role in rebuilding East Timor. The UK pledged £12 million, over three years for budgetary support from 1 July 2002. Additionally in 2003 we provided funding for a Joint Services Centre at Batugade near the border, agricultural and irrigation projects in Zumalai and Betano, assistance to schools in Sulilaco and Gleno, and an adviser to the Timorese government on the collection and analysis of data on veterans. In 2004 we provided funding for water projects in Atauro, a Prosthetics Clinic in Dili and other water and education projects in Same, Bobonaro and Liquica. In 2005 we funded projects such as a mobile eye clinic, youth in agriculture projects and schools in Oecusse and Los Palos. Following the crisis in 2006 we have funded a number of children’s projects in the IDP camps, designed to assist children to overcome the trauma they have experienced as a result of recent events.

Previous aid includes £0.8m for the organisation of the 1999 ballot, £6.5m for humanitarian and emergency relief in 1999, and £13m was pledged at the Tokyo Donors Conference in December 1999 for the period 2000-2002. We have also provided funding for elections; the Truth, Reception and Reconciliation Commission; the Veterans Commissions, the provision of Legal Advisers to train the East Timorese Defence Force in discipline procedures and draft appropriate legislation; and Chevening scholarships and fellowships.

Visits

  • 27-28 September 2005: HRH Princess Royal visits East Timor.
  • 16-18 March 2005: Prime Minister Alkatiri and Finance Minister Boavida visit the UK to attend Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) conference.
  • 7-11 June 2004: Dr Ramos Horta, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
  • 12-17 October 2003: President Xanana Gusmao visits London and Northern Ireland.
  • 16-18 June 2003: Prime Minister Alkatiri and Finance Minister Boavida visit the UK.
  • 7-16 September 2002: Mr Longuinhos Monteiro, Prosecutor General, visits UK
  • 9-12 June 2002: Dr Jose Ramos Horta, Minister of State, Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
  • 19-20 May 2002: Ben Bradshaw, Minister responsible for South East Asia, visits East Timor for independence celebrations.
  • 24-27 March 2002: Dr Mari Alkatiri, Chief Minister and Minister of Economy and Development, visits UK
  • August 2001: Ben Bradshaw, Minister responsible for South East Asia, visits East Timor
  • November 2000: Jose Ramos Horta, Cabinet Member responsible for Foreign Affairs visits the UK
  • January 2000: John Battle, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, visits East Timor
  • 5-6 October 1999: Xanana Gusmao visits UK
  • 26-28 April 1999: Derek Fatchett, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, visits East Timor
President Xanana Gusmao meets Jack Straw at the Foreign Office, 15 October 2003
President Xanana Gusmao meets Jack Straw at the Foreign Office, 15 October 2003
Xanana Gusmao, President of East Timor, meeting the Queen, 14.11.03
HM The Queen presenting President Xanana Gusmao with his GCMG, 14 October 2003, Buckingham Palace
President Xanana Gusmao meets Timorese nationals at a reception in Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland, 15 October 2003
President Xanana Gusmao meets Timorese nationals at a reception in Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland, 15 October 2003
Mike O'Brien meeting Prime Minister Alkatiri
Prime Minister Alkatiri meeting Foreign Office Minister, Mike O'Brien, June 2003
Jack Straw meeting Jose Horta
Jack Straw meeting Dr Jose Ramos Horta, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Co-operation of East Timor, 11 June 2002

HUMAN RIGHTS

In February 2000, the United Nations Security Council accepted Indonesia's pledge to conduct its own enquiry and prosecute those responsible for crimes committed in East Timor in 1999. On 23 April 2001, President Wahid issued a decree to establish an ad hoc tribunal to prosecute 18 defendants involved in the East Timor massacres of 1999. The Tribunal began in Jakarta on 14 March 2002 and the final verdict was delivered on 5 August 2003. Of the 18 defendants tried, 12 were acquitted, including former East Timor police chief, Timbul Silaen, and Col-Yayat Sudrajat, former task force commander at the Dili Military Command. The six convicted were Major General Adam Damiri, (3 years), the former Indonesian Governor of East Timor, Abilio Soares (3 years), East Timor militia leader, Eurico Guterres (10 years), Lt. Col Soedjarwo, the former chief of the Dili military district (5 years), Hulman Gultom, former Dili police chief (3 years), and Brigadier General Noer Muis (5years). Five remain free pending possible appeals. One, (Abilio Soares) had his sentence confirmed by the Indonesian Supreme Court and was imprisoned, but his conviction was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court. The EU issued a statement on 6 August 2003 expressing disappointment that the Ad Hoc tribunal failed to deliver justice and did not produce a substantiated account of the human rights violations committed in East Timor in 1999. Indonesia's Supreme Court has upheld the acquittal of eleven defendants: Colonel Herman Sedyono, Lieutenant-Colonel Lilik Koeshardiyanto, Captain Achmad Syamsudin, Lieutenant-Colonel Sugito, Gatot Subiaktoro, Lt. Col. Asep Kuswani, Lt. Col. Adios Salova, Leoneto Martins, Brig. Gen Timbul Silaen, Yayat Sudrajat and Lt. Col. Endar Priyanto.

The UN Serious Crimes Unit (SCU) established by UNTAET following UNSCR 1272 is investigating major incidents of mass killings and forced deportation, murder, rape, torture and other crimes against humanity committed in East Timor between 1 January and 25 October 1999. So far the SCU has filed 91 indictments at the Special Panel for Serious Crimes charging a total of 391 people, including the former Indonesian Armed Forces Chief, General Wiranto, and the former Indonesian governor Abilio Soares. The Special Panel issued an arrest warrant for General Wiranto in May 2004, but the East Timorese government has made it clear it will not forward this warrant to Interpol. 279 of those indicted are in Indonesia, but the Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda has said that Indonesia will ignore the indictments. 50 defendants have been convicted in trials at the Special Panel for Serious Crimes in Dili District Court. Interpol warrants have been issued for nineteen of those indicted and this may restrict their overseas travel. The work of the SCU was wound up in May 2005, although not all of the investigations were completed.

Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation

In January 2002 the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) was established to enquire into human rights violations committed in East Timor between April 1974 and October 1999, and to assist in the process of national reconciliation, and to ease the formal judicial system by allowing those responsible for less serious crimes to confess them before a commission panel and do community service in atonement. The CAVR held hearings for over 1400 perpetrators in the districts, has completed a large database of victims' statements and held a number of public hearings in Dili. The Commission presented its report to the President in October 2005. Copies of the report were sent to the UN Secretary-General, to the governments of East Timor and Indonesia, and others. The UK has given around £580,000 in funding to the CAVR. The report has not yet been considered by the East Timorese Parliament.

Truth and Friendship Commission

On 9 March 2005 a joint Truth and Friendship Commission (TFC) accord was signed by the governments of East Timor and Indonesia, to look into the events surrounding the 1999 referendum. The aim is to settle alleged human rights abuses in East Timor. The Commission would not include officials from either government. The main task of the commission has been described by Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Wirayuda as “to appropriately close the burden of part of the history between East Timor and Indonesia and particularly not to investigate human rights violations that occurred in 1999”. Both sides have firmly stated that the TFC should have precedence over any UN-backed international tribunal (as advised by the Commission of Experts) which both governments reject.

HEALTH

See Travel Advice: East Timor

TRAVEL

Travel Advice: East Timor

USEFUL LINKS AND PAPERS

Research and Analytical Papers: Asia and Australasia

Last reviewed: 24 April 2007