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339 human rights violations during 1997

MateBEAN - December 12, 1997

Dili – During the last eleven months, there were 339 reported human rights violations in East Timor. It was reported by the East Timor people to Comissa Iustiti Et Pax (Commission for Justice and Peace), a special organization appointed by the Dili Diocese and the Human Rights and Law Foundation (HAK). However, many believe the number of human rights abuse is higher than that.

The director of the HAK Foundation, Aniceto Guterres Lopes released HAK's human rights violation report in a press conference last Thursday, 11 December 1997 in KKP office, Travessa de Lecidera Street, Dili, to commemorate Human Rights Day.

The two independent groups had received 451 cases during the last eleven months. Three hundred thirty nine cases categorized as violence and human rights abuse. They also reported around eighty cases on women and social-economic problems. Aniceto stressed the fact that violence and human rights abuse is still dominant in East Timor. He mentioned Hotel Mahkota Case on 23 March 1997 and the attack of the University of East Timor by military personnel on 14 November 1997. Another significant human rights abuse was the political trials. HAK Foundation and KKP handled 34 cases in 1997. Both institutions also handled non-political cases, but the number is too small, i.e., and criminal, civil, labor and administrative cases. There were 289 arrests or 82.2% of civil and political rights cases.

Aniceto and Amandio are concerned about the human rights violations surounding the present political trials in East Timor. Many arrests and detentions by the authorities were illegal and against the existing Criminal Code because they did not bring the necessary warrants.

According to HAK Foundation, law enforcers are still using violence in inter-rogations and it clearly against Article 52 of the Criminal Code. If we read the files of the Bairo Pite Case (the attack of Police SWAT barrack), we will find that the suspects were tortured badly; from kicking, punching, using e-lectric shocks until stabbing. It all done before the suspects were officially arrested. Belisior Soares, 49, the Hatolia Village Head, was the witness and victim of the authorities' brutality.

"Arrest, detention and torture was always used, simply by suspecting somebody as a Fretilin, clandestine, 'bushman' and other silly accusations. It's all against the basic principle of criminal law, the Presumption of Innocence written on Article 88 of Law No. 14/1970 on the Authority of Justice," Aniceto said further.

Mentioning the death of four Guico villager in Maubara, near Liquisa last 19 November 1997, Aniceto said that his organization will dispatch a Fact-finding Team soon. Many believed that ABRI was behind the slaughter. The four killed people were Imerco dos Santos, Bendito, Patricino, and Bernardo.