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Copyright (c) 2005 Regents of the University of California
UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs


Fall, 2005

10 UCLA J. Int'l L. & For. Aff. 297


Cheah Wui Ling*


The year 1999 will be indelibly seared in Timorese history as the year in which, after centuries of Portuguese colonization followed by twenty-five years of Indonesian occupation, the people of East Timor voted for independence. That year, the small territory was engulfed in violence as pro-Indonesian militia groups swept through Timorese towns and villages exacting revenge for the Timorese "betrayal" of Indonesia. Today, East Timor has a new constitution and a newly elected government and parliament. However, the memories of 1999 and Timor's violent past still remain, as seen in the occasional charred building, newly erected memorials, and ongoing post-conflict justice processes set up to address crimes committed in 1999.

After the civil conflict ended in Timor Leste, as East Timor came to be called, the country made post-conflict justice one of its top priorities. The United Nations (UN) set up the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), which was charged with executive and legislative powers over Timor Leste while the territory prepared for full independence. 1 On June 6, 2000, UNTAET established both the Serious Crimes Panels and the Department of Prosecution of Serious Crimes (Serious Crimes Unit) in order to criminally prosecute "serious crimes," particularly those committed in 1999. 2 Subsequently, in response to Timorese leaders' call for reconciliatory justice, UNTAET designed, in collaboration with wide segments of the Timorese community, the Commission for Reception, Truth, and Reconciliation (Reconciliation Commission). 3 On July 13, 2001, the Reconciliation Commission was set up ...
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