The police and judiciary remained weak institutions. There were violent attacks on the President and the Prime Minister. Impunity for gross human rights violations committed during transition from Indonesian occupation in 1999 continued. The long-awaited report of the joint Indonesia and Timor-Leste Truth and Friendship Commission was delivered to the Timor-Leste and Indonesian governments. The UN had boycotted the Commission’s investigation due to concerns about impunity. The number of internally displaced people living in camps after fleeing the violence in 2006 remained high.
Those responsible for perpetrating human rights violations at the time of the independence referendum in 1999 and during violence in April/May 2006 continued to enjoy impunity.
The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) mandate was extended until early 2009. President José Ramos Horta called for the UNMIT to remain until at least 2012.
"Approximately 40,000 people remained internally displaced."
Police and security forces
The programme to rebuild the national police force continued. However, there were reports of human rights violations by both police and military personnel. Tensions between the two forces escalated when the police came temporarily under the authority of Timor-Leste’s army following attacks on the President and Prime Minister. UN mentoring of the police force continued.
On 11 February, President José Ramos-Horta was shot three times during a raid on his home led by rebel soldier Major Alfredo Reinado. Major Reinado and the president’s bodyguard were killed in the ensuing gun battle. In a coordinated attack, the car in which Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão was travelling, and his home were also attacked but he escaped unharmed. Reinado had been charged with murder and was wanted by police for his leadership role in the 2006 violence. The President made a full recovery.
The Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF) report into the 1999 violence was officially submitted to the Timor-Leste government and the Indonesian government in July. It went further than expected in allocating institutional responsibility for gross human rights violations to pro-autonomy militia groups, Indonesia’s military, civilian government and police. However, its mandate prevents the CTF from pursuing its own prosecutions, and it did not name individual violators. Concerns about impunity led the UN to boycott the CTF’s investigations and instead resume prosecutions through the Serious Crime Unit, set up in conjunction with Timor-Leste prosecutors. By the end of the year, twenty cases had been submitted. The UN estimated that it could take three years to complete investigations into nearly 400 cases.
In May, the President reduced the sentences of numerous pro-Indonesian militia convicted of murder during the 1999 violence.
- Militia leader Joni Marques’ sentence was halved to 12 years. Originally set at 33 years, for crimes against humanity, his term had already been reduced by nine years in 2004.
- In April, Indonesia’s Supreme Court overturned on appeal the conviction and 10-year sentence of former militia leader Eurico Guterres for crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste. He was the only defendant out of the six originally found guilty whose conviction had been upheld and who was serving a prison sentence.
Internally displaced people
Approximately 40,000 people remained internally displaced. They continued to be in need of adequate food, shelter, clean water and sanitation and health care.