Source: (2006) The Lancet. 367(9518):1222-1224.
East Timorâ€™s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CAVR) submitted its final report to the countryâ€™s new parliament in 2005.1 The President, Xanana Gusmao, objected to the reportâ€™s call for an international war-crimes tribunal, fearing that the process would open wounds within the society and threaten the fragile peace with Indonesia, where many perpetrators have sought sanctuary. These
concerns echo the debate in the society as a whole about whether the CAVR helped to heal or open the wounds of conflict (loke kanek in the Timorese language, Tetum). As health professionals contributing to the building of services in East Timor, we consider what lessons might be learnt from the CAVR experience, particularly about the capacity of truth and reconciliation commissions to achieve healing, whether personal or social.After independence, East Timor established two parallel structures to deal with past human-rights violations. The
serious crimes unit brought to trial perpetrators of offences such as rape and murder, but its activities were limited by the lack of extradition arrangements with Indonesia. CAVRâ€™s role was to document the extensive human-rights violations that took place before and during the Indonesian occupation (1974â€“99) and the
humanitarian crisis of 1999, with the key aim to achieve reconciliation. (author’s abstract)
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