Dili, 27 February 2002


Chief Minister Marí Alkatiri's Advisor for the Promotion of Equality left East Timor today for a week-long trip to New York that will include an opportunity to observe a portion of the 46th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

The minister's advisor, Maria Domingas Fernandes, has been specially invited by Angela King, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, to participate in a study tour of the 4-15 March session.

The tour is expected to provide a unique opportunity for East Timor's transitional government to gain first-hand knowledge and experience with the Commission, which is the central intergovernmental body of the United Nations responsible for policy and normative work in the area of gender equality.

Domingas Fernandes is expected to meet with representatives of foreign gender-related ministries, NGO representatives and gender experts from the UN Secretariat.


A team of Indonesian prosecutors investigating the 1999 killing of Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes interviewed several witnesses today along with investigators from UNTAET's Serious Crimes Unit.

The Indonesian team will spend the next few days interviewing witnesses and going over evidence already collected by Serious Crimes investigators. Dutch police investigator Gerrit Thiry, who participated in an earlier UN investigation, is due to arrive in Dili tomorrow, 28 February, to help clarify the available evidence in the Thoenes case.

Thoenes was killed in Dili on 21 September 1999 (not 26 September, as was mistakenly reported in yesterday's Briefing Note) as arriving INTERFET forces worked to restore order following weeks of violence perpetrated by pro-Indonesia militia after the 30 August 1999 UN-sponsored popular consultation.

Witnesses allege that the Jakarta-based Financial Times correspondent was murdered by retreating Indonesian troops on their way to West Timor, Indonesia.


About 70 East Timorese police officers from the national force's Vulnerable Persons Unit began today a two-day training session on domestic violence, a major social issue in East Timor.

The course includes investigation and evidence gathering techniques in child abuse and sexual offences cases, and how to raise public awareness of domestic violence.

Trainers for the course were recruited from the International Red Cross office in Dili, a local human rights NGO and the United Nations Civilian Police.

The programme, funded by the United Nations Population Fund, is part of an ongoing, nationwide campaign against domestic violence launched last month in conjunction with UNTAET's Office of Communication and Public Information and several NGOs in East Timor.