Wednesday, February 9, 2011

US Embassy in Dili admits mistake about worker's rights

The General Workers Union of Timor-Leste tells ETAN that they met with the US Embassy in Dili on 3 February 2011 and successfully settled the dispute about the unfair dismissal of Mario Baretto and their subsequent claim that their national staff cannot join a union. ETAN had written the embassy about the dispute.

From the union: 

The Embassy advised that they had mistakenly stated their policy and affirmed their staff’s right to join a union:
The US Embassy seeks to be a model employer and respects workers and the role of unions in representing workers. The Administration has been a strong international supporter of labour rights and we want to maintain an open relationship with the unions and labor rights advocates here in Timor-Leste.
The Embassy also confirmed that they seek to be fully compliant with local labour laws and resolved Mr Baretto’s dismissal consistent with the Labour Code of Timor-Leste.
The General Workers Union of Timor-Leste and the Trade Union Confederation of Timor-Leste would like to thank all those individuals and organisations that supported Mr Baretto and Timorese workers by writing to the Ambassador.
Please direct any media enquiries to:

Almerio Vila Nova
General Secretary
General Workers Union
+670 724 8482

Timorese call on the UN Security Council to ensure accountability for crimes against humanity

A coalition of groups in Timor-Leste is urging the United Nations Security Council "to take concrete, effective actions to end impunity for those who directed and committed crimes against humanity in Timor-Leste" during Indonesia's invasion and occupation.

"Accountability for crimes against humanity must not be further delayed" the Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal (ANTI) told the UN Security Council in a letter delivered this week.

ANTI criticized UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon for failing "to mention the consequences of ongoing impunity for the serious international crimes committed during the Indonesian occupation" in his latest report to the Council.

The letter was endorsed by more than 30 other organizations from outside of Timor-Leste.

"We are still not yet free of the shadow of serious crimes committed during the 24 years of Indonesian occupation. We have suffered a lot during that period; physically and psychologically, because of torture from various types of violations, including sexual violence against women, and the loss of 180,000 human lives because of the brutal, illegal Indonesian military occupation," said ANTI.

ANTI added "If impunity continues to prevail in Timor-Leste, it will have a negative impact on the stability and security of our country; undercutting the efforts of the United Nations to establish rule of law and strength security institutions. In addition, the perpetrators are continuing to commit similar crimes in Indonesia."
The Security Council is scheduled to meet on February 22 to discuss the future of the UN Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT). The mission's current mandate expires February 26. 

The Security Council should "discuss the recommendations of the [2005] Commission of Experts regarding the establishment of an International Criminal Tribunal when national mechanisms fail." They also urged the Council to enlarge the mandate of the Serious Crimes Investigation Team (SCIT) to allow the investigation and support the prosecution "of the principal perpetrators of serious crimes and crimes against humanity throughout the Indonesian occupation from 1975-1999." The SCIT current mandate only allows investigations of murders committed during 1999, when the UN sponsored the referendum which led to Timor-Leste's independence.

ANTI argues that such prosecutions are "the only solution to end impunity in Timor-Leste and Indonesia, so that democracy and human rights that we yearn for can be achieved in Timor-Leste and other countries."

Endorsing groups include the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (U.S.); KontraS, the Indonesian human rights organization; Japan East Timor Coalition; International Federation for East Timor; Australian Coalition for Justice for East Timor; and the regional Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition.

Full letter (in english and tetun) and signatures here