Security Council lauds TimorLestes response to assassination attempts

19 August 2008The Security Council today commended Timor-Leste’s Government and public institutions for their quick and effective response in the wake of the February attempts on the lives of the leaders of the tiny nation that the United Nations helped shepherd to independence in 2002. In a statement read out by Ambassador Jan Grauls of Belgium, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month, the 15-member body lauded the country for the “rapid, firm and responsible manner” respecting constitutional procedures in which they reacted to the attempted assassination.In two separate attacks on 11 February, President José Ramos-Horta sustained serious injuries, while Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão escaped unscathed.But the Council cautioned that in spite of progress in boosting Timor-Leste’s security situation since the violent 2006 clashes, the “political, security, social and humanitarian situation in the country remains fragile.”The statement also stressed the need to continue taking action to achieve justice and accountability and emphasized the need to put into practice the recommendations made by a UN panel set up to examine the 2006 clashes.The Council “welcomes the conviction of the leaders of Timor-Leste on the need for justice and their determination to act against impunity,” and underlined the importance of promoting and protecting human rights.Addressing today’s meeting, Atul Khare, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said that there have been concerns about possible abuses committed by armed forces following the February attacks.“The Government has been responsive when those concerns were raised,” he said. “However, it is not clear how effectively Government concerns are being institutionalized and articulated farther down the ranks.”Mr. Khare, who also heads the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), noted that an effective judiciary is key to ensure that culture of impunity does not become entrenched. He expressed his delight that a training course for judicial officers – third so far – began on 29 July. read more