Better security needed to protect displaced in Georgia – UN rights expert

Walter Kälin, the Secretary-General’s Representative on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), issued a statement at the end of a four-day trip to Georgia in which he expressed particular concern about the lack of protection of civilians living in the “buffer zone” between the breakaway region of South Ossetia and the rest of the country.“The continuing lack of effective protection of the population against violence committed by armed elements and widespread looting of property in the buffer zone north of [the town of] Gori is unacceptable and should cease immediately,” he said.Mr. Kälin said he was alarmed by the descriptions he heard during meetings with IDPs and others about the climate of fear in many areas since the conflict erupted in early August.An estimated 192,000 people were uprooted from their homes in the Caucasus country by the fighting between forces from Georgia, Russia and South Ossetia.In today’s statement Mr. Kälin urged that law and order in the buffer zone be restored immediately and he also called for the deadlines for the withdrawal of Russian troops to be respected.“The need for a stronger humanitarian presence and for ensuring continuous protection monitoring in those areas is urgent and the deployment of the European Union (EU) Monitoring Mission is a welcome first step.”The Representative deplored the lack of unimpeded humanitarian access to Tskhinvali and other conflict-affected areas, and he called on all sides to grant full access to aid workers as soon as possible.But he welcomed what he called the Georgian Government’s prompt response to the massive displacement as a result of the fighting, including its construction of new homes for people unlikely to be able to return in the near future.He also noted Tbilisi’s plans to find durable solutions for all IDPs, including those – estimated at around 200,000 – who have been away from their homes since conflict in the early 1990s.“I welcome the recognition by the authorities that local integration in the areas they have fled to and safeguarding their right to return are not mutually exclusive,” he said, adding that immediate humanitarian needs are also of concern given the coming winter in the region.During this visit Mr. Kälin visited Tbilisi, Gori and the buffer zone to the immediate north, and held high-level talks with Georgian Government officials. He said he hopes to visit Tskhinvali and surrounding areas on a separate trip in the near future.Mr. Kälin has served in an independent and unpaid capacity as the Secretary-General’s Representative on this issue since 2004, and he reports to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. 4 October 2008Effective security is the key to ensuring the return home of tens of thousands of people displaced by the recent conflict in Georgia, a United Nations human rights expert said today, warning about the ongoing climate of fear faced by civilians in the region. read more

TimorLeste indicts militia members Indonesian officers for 1999 crimes UN mission

The indictments were filed with the Special Panel for Serious Crimes of the Dili District Court, UNMISET said. One of the indictments involves crimes allegedly committed by five members of the Mahadomi militia in Manatuto District during 1999. One of the five is the former district chief and the founder and commander of the militia group while the other four men were section commanders.The indictment contains 13 charges of crimes against humanity. Five of the counts concern the murder of six men in May and September 1999, while the other counts include charges of torture, imprisonment, persecution and deportation committed within Manatuto between May and October 1999. The five accused are all believed to be currently residing in Indonesia.The second indictment concerns two Indonesian officers who were members of the Indonesian Battalion 745 that was stationed in Lautem District during 1999. One of the accused was the commanding officer of the battalion and the other a platoon commander.The indictment charges 17 counts of crimes against humanity, including 14 counts of murder in which members of Battalion 745 are alleged to have killed 21 civilians during September 1999. Many of the civilians were killed during the Battalion’s withdrawal from East Timor, as they travelled overland from Lautem to Dili. Included within the charges is the murder of Sander Thoenes, a Dutch journalist who was allegedly killed by members of Battalion 745 in Dili on 21 September 1999.Both of the accused are believed to be residing in Indonesia at the present time, UNMISET said.Arrest warrants for the all of the accused have been requested from the Dili District Court. Once received by the General Prosecutor, these will be forwarded to the Attorney General of Indonesia. The arrest warrants will also be forwarded to INTERPOL, which Timor-Leste joined late last month. read more