CAVR/CTF FOLLOW-UP INSTITUTION: PROGRESS REPORT
18 December 2009
On 14 December 2009, the Timor-Leste National Parliament debated a Resolution on the implementation of recommendations from the CAVR and CTF reports. The debate came 4 years and 16 days after the CAVR report was delivered to the Parliament on 28 November 2005. The Parliament’s initiative was led by the President of the Parliament, Fernando de Araujo, and owed much to the work of individual MPs, civil society, UNMIT and the National Consensus Dialogue on Truth, Justice and Reconciliation.
2. Parliamentary Resolution and debate
In its preamble, the Resolution (34/11) acknowledged the work and reports of the two commissions, the need to recognise, honour and alleviate the suffering of victims through just reparations and the necessity of implementing the two sets of recommendations. In its operative section, the Resolution asked the Parliament’s Committee A to prepare draft legislation comprising concrete measures to implement the recommendations and the creation of an autonomous body for that purpose. The Parliament requested that this draft legislation be completed within 3 months (i.e. by the middle of March 2010 at the latest). It also called for the publication of the CAVR Executive Summary and the CTF reports.
All MPs present warmly acknowledged the two reports, strongly endorsed the need and urgency to establish a mechanism to implement the recommendations and voted to refer the framing of legislation to Committee A. The majority, however, preferred that the implementing mechanism be located within the Government not autonomous.
The media have misreported the debate. The Parliament did not debate or adopt the CAVR or CTF reports. The debate focussed only on a follow-up mechanism to implement recommendations. It is not known if the Parliament will discuss the substance and findings of the CAVR and CTF reports.
The Resolution expresses the mind of those MPs who were present in the chamber for the debate (at least 20 were absent) but does not have the force of law. The status of the new body, its terms of reference and which recommendations it will address from CAVR/CTF will be debated further in Committee A and determined when the Parliament debates the draft legislation prepared by Committee A.
The Resolution indicates that the Parliament favours the idea of a reparations program for victims and that recommendations common to both the CAVR and CTF reports should be jointly implemented by one body.
The reference in the Resolution to the publication of the two reports is a formality. Both reports have already been published and disseminated widely.
During and since the debate one or two MPs have expressed concerns that following-up the two reports will ‘re-open old wounds and create conflict’. In response, it should be emphasised that this is not the intention of the process. The intention is to heal not hurt. Problems are more likely to occur if nothing is done. Second, it should be recalled that similar fears were expressed in 2000-2001 about CAVR. However, the CAVR process (which involved bringing victims and perpetrators together and graphic public testimony by victims about the violations they suffered) never triggered violence. On the contrary it contributed to stability and healing.
Some have suggested that it is the Government’s responsibility to implement the Recommendations because, in CAVR’s case, the Regulation required CAVR to direct its recommendations to the Government. This is not so. CAVR recommendations are directed to a range of institutions. It is the responsibility of the Parliament to decide how the various recommendations are acted on.
4. Other matters
In its recent budget deliberations, the Parliament voted a contingency sum of US$250,000 for the new institution. This fund will be held in a reserve account by the Ministry of Finance until the new body is established. This is further evidence of the Parliament and Government’s support for the new body.
The Parliament’s plan to establish a follow-up mechanism means that the Post-CAVR Technical Secretariat will wind up in the first part of 2010.
Some Governments and other recipients of the CAVR report have stated that they should not respond to its contents until the Timor-Leste Parliament has done so. The Parliament’s initiative this week has now opened the way for long overdue international discussion of Chega! and implementation of its relevant recommendations.
Prior to the debate, local NGOs presented hundreds of signed petitions to the Parliament urging it to urgently act on the implementation of the CAVR report. The majority of the petitions were signed by Timorese from all parts of Timor-Leste. Citizens from 23 other countries, including Indonesia, also endorsed the petition.
The Post-CAVR Technical Secretariat is organising a public information program early 2010 to explain and consult about developments regarding the two reports to key stakeholders, including Government Ministries, victims groups, civil society, and the international community. This program will be undertaken with the support of the European Commission (EC). A report on the program will be provided to Committee A.
Copies of the Resolution adopted by the Parliament are available in Portuguese and English on request.
Senior Advisor, Post-CAVR Technical Secretariat, Dili.
Email: email@example.com Tel (+670) 726 8423
Follow-up institution progress report 18 Dec 09