Dili, 19 April 2002


Representatives of East Timor and Indonesia are scheduled to begin a Joint Reconnaissance Survey (JRS) next week aimed at demarcating the countries’ common land borders.

JRS participants include surveyors from both countries’ mapping and surveying agencies and representatives from each side’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Logistical support will be provided by UNTAET’s peacekeeping force and the Indonesian military.

The launch of the border demarcation process has been a major goal of the United Nations before the end of the transition period.

A technical meeting to prepare the JRS was held on 18 April in Denpasar, Indonesia, and resulted in a decision to begin the survey process in Atambua, West Timor, on Monday 22 April.

The joint survey team will spend 12 days carrying out survey work on both sides of the tactical coordination lines that currently divide East Timor and West Timor and surround East Timor’s Oecussi enclave. The team will attempt to locate old border markers and study geological features, local social issues and technical issues.

Local communities on both sides will be consulted during the process. Security will be provided by members of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force and the Indonesian Armed Forces.


In his first address to the Legislative Assembly since his electoral victory, President-elect Xanana Gusmão called on the legislative body today to quickly pass basic laws that will effectively promote democracy and economic development in East Timor.

Gusmão congratulated the Assembly on its 22 March promulgation of East Timor’s constitution and urged lawmakers to continue their work by passing appropriate legislation that will back up the ideals expressed in the constitution.

“In the period that lies before us, in the coming five years, we need everyday laws that guarantee the development of the democratic process of our young nation,” Gusmão said.

“The Parliament will also have to decide which will be the pertinent legal instruments for the good conduct of the economy of the country, including regulatory mechanisms for the monetary system and support to local businessmen,” he added.

Gusmão won a landslide victory in a 14 April election, the first presidential elections in East Timor, and will serve a term of five years. The Assembly, elected in August 2001, will transform itself into the National Parliament upon independence on 20 May and also has a standard term of five years.

“We have five years to prove that we are able to produce results,” the President-elect said. “We have few financial resources, but our strength lies in our determination, in our discipline and in our ambition to prove that we know, we can and we must succeed.”


East Timor will host a trilateral meeting with Australia and Indonesia to tackle regional security issues such as human trafficking, drug smuggling and other cross-border crime, UNTAET announced today.

The 24 April meeting of police representatives follows a proposal by Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in East Timor, during the first-ever trilateral meeting between the three countries on 26 February in Denpasar, Indonesia.

At the time, East Timor proposed that the police services of the three countries – the United Nations Police and East Timor Police Service, Australian Federal Police and Indonesian POLRI – should meet at a technical level to discuss security issues.

Topics of the Wednesday meeting are expected to include efforts to increase cooperation among the police forces of the three countries, especially in the fight against cross-border crimes such as drug smuggling, money laundering and people smuggling.


East Timor’s Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation is scheduled to hold an open meeting in Dili tomorrow, 20 April, at which former political prisoners held on Ataúro Island between 1980 and 1983 can document their experiences as part of the Commission’s truth-seeking function.

Commission representatives have already made an initial visit to Ataúro to speak with some of the former prisoners and their families who decided to stay on Ataúro after 1983.

In this first phase of Ataúro “truth-seeking” work, the Commission plans to focus on events related to the initial wave of prisoners deported to Ataúro under the Indonesian regime, starting from the arrival of the first group in September 1980.

“The purpose of the consultation is to tell people about plans to document these tragic events as part of the Commission’s truth-seeking function, and in turn to consult the people about our work,” said the Commission’s Chairman, human rights lawyer Aniceto Guterres Lopes.

The Commission’s overall functions also include: supporting the reintegration of less-serious offenders into their communities through community-based reconciliation mechanisms; documenting the nature of and reasons for human rights violations in East Timor between 1974 and 1999; and recommending ways to prevent future human rights violations and address the needs of the victims of violations.

Seven National Commissioners were sworn in earlier this year to begin planning the commission’s work. The commissioners plan to finish by the end of this month the selection process for Regional Commissioners, whose functions will include supervising the Commission’s community reconciliation processes.