West Timor: light sentences 'deeply disturbing'
UNHCR is deeply disturbed by the light sentences given by a Jakarta court today to six men in connection with the killing last year of three UNHCR staff members in West Timor.
The men were reportedly given sentences ranging from 10 to 20 months for the 6 Sept. 2000 killings of Pero Simundza, Samson Aregahegn and Carlos Caceres at the UNHCR office in Atambua, West Timor. The brutality of the murders - the victims were hacked to death and their bodies burned - shocked the international community and led to the evacuation of U.N. and other aid workers from West Timor.
The sentences make a mockery of the international community's insistence that justice be done in this horrific case. While UNHCR had been heartened by assurances from the Indonesian judiciary that the murders would be fully investigated and the perpetrators brought to trial, today's outcome leaves us extremely disappointed.
UNHCR will carefully study the judgements and take them into account when considering any further action.
Humanitarian staff are increasingly becoming targets worldwide, including six ICRC workers killed just last week. Five UNHCR staff have been murdered in the last eight months. The United Nations and many in the international community have expressed outrage over these continuing attacks and insisted that governments do everything in their power to prevent and address such incidents. Today's sentencing sends the opposite message. It flies in the face of world opinion and is an affront to the memory of those humanitarians who have given their lives in the service of others.
Background: In addition to the West Timor victims, two other UNHCR staff members have been killed since last September. They were:
- Mr. Mensah Kpognon, UNHCR's head of office in the southern Guinea town of Macenta, who was shot and killed in a Sept. 17 attack by unknown men.
- Mr. Nsakala Tshiama, a UNHCR driver who was shot and killed by uniformed men on 27 March in the Democratic Republic of Congo town of Kimpese.