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The situation in Timor-Leste

(New York, November 14, 2002)

Statement by Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso, Permanent Representative of Colombia


I wish to welcome Ambassador Kamalesh Sharma and express our gratitude to him for his presentation of the report (S/2002/1223) on the activities of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET). Through him, I also wish to congratulate the members of his team; the very important start of their activities and the success they are having will guarantee a very promising outcome for the Mission.

It has been five months since the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste declared its independence and less than two months since it was admitted as a full Member of our Organization. The new Government has been steadily consolidating itself, and has been promoting participative democracy, in keeping with the expectations of the international community.

The dissatisfaction of certain sectors of the population, as noted in the report, highlights the difficulties and challenges the Government faces in achieving the development and well-being of the population. We welcome the Government's efforts to establish good relations with the other States of the region and its participation in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as an observer.

I would like to make a few comments on the objectives set by the Security Council in resolution 1410 (2002). Regarding the programme on stability, democracy and justice, we underscore the work being done by the Civilian Support Group in addressing gaps within the administration in key areas, including finance, the legal system and the management of administrative and governmental affairs. As already mentioned in this Chamber, the insufficient technical and substantive capacity of the public administration is a serious obstacle to stability.

The justice system remains perhaps the weakest link in the new State. The Secretary-General's report points out the need to strengthen the various components of that system. It is clear that an effective system for the administration of justice is not something that can be achieved in a short time. It is necessary to continue and to redouble efforts, since the proper functioning of the justice system impacts on the stability and the development of the State.

The need to bring to trial those responsible for the grave crimes committed in 1999 has been raised on several occasions in the Security Council. We appreciate information on action that has been taken thus far by the Special Panels for Serious Crimes and the envisaged date of completion, 31 December 2002, although the Panels will continue to assist prosecutors even after that date.

We are concerned about the assertion in paragraph 22 of the report regarding the emergence of additional cases of serious crimes different from those provided for in the implementation plan. These might involve crimes against humanity and might go uninvestigated. The fact that the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation has begun its activities is also positive. My delegation has already underscored the importance of the work that needs to be done by that body, since, as is well known, there can be no reconciliation without justice.

Regarding the internal security and law enforcement programme, while we note that the security situation is normal and the fact that the UNMISET civilian police have already transferred control of four of the 13 districts to the Timor-Leste Police Service, it would be important here to echo the appeal made by Ambassador Sharma at the end of his statement regarding terrorism. It seems that the region has been selected for terrorist action, at least according to a large number of reports and much information. Therefore, this is a warning that I would like to echo, because it is clearly reflected in the report.

We have also taken note of the fact that the UNMISET police component has been reduced by one third, in keeping with the plan, and that training is proceeding satisfactorily. Nonetheless, we also attach importance to the joint assessment mission soon to take place, in which the Government, the United Nations and donor countries will participate, to assess the level of training and logistical support needed and to identify resource difficulties.

Regarding the programme on external security and border control, although the report indicates that external security and border control have continued to improve - in particular, control of militia activities and criminal activities at the border - the risk of terrorism, to which we have already referred, is also a concern. We associate ourselves with all those who have expressed their solidarity with the families of the two officers of the peacekeeping component who were killed in the Bali attack.

The return of refugees from West Timor, which continued following independence and which reached its highest level in June and July, has declined. It may be that this could be dealt with in the short term, as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has indicated.

The security situation is also very encouraging. As scheduled, by the end of November, the first phase of the programme for downsizing the military component of UNMISET will be complete. Future progress will depend on maintaining security in Timor-Leste and on the successful development, through sufficient donor and bilateral support, of the national defence force and the Border Patrol Service.

Let me say in conclusion that capacity-building and empowering the local population in all areas - security, economy, justice and governance - continues to be the main work to be done. We are pleased that, to date, the situation is evolving within the envisaged parameters, including the plan to downsize UNMISET.


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