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Country Reports
EAST TIMOR, Landmine Monitor Report 2001
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East Timor is internationally recognized as administratively independent of Indonesia, but it is not yet a fully independent State. Thus it is not yet eligible to sign international treaties, including the Mine Ban Treaty. The UN Transitory Administration for East Timor (UNTAET), established on 25 October 1999, has administrative responsibility over East Timor, including legislative and executive authority. Full independence is expected to be achieved in late 2001 or 2002.

There has been no formal statement yet on mine ban policy from East Timor leaders. José Ramos Horta, 1996 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and currently the Foreign Affairs Minister for the UN-administered territory, has in the past spoken out strongly in favor of a comprehensive ban on antipersonnel mines.

There is no evidence that during the conflict from 1975 to 1999 that East Timorese independence fighters, the Armed Forces for the National Liberation of East Timor (FALINTIL) ever used, produced or obtained antipersonnel mines. There is conflicting information about mine use in East Timor by Indonesian Army troops. (See Landmine Monitor Report 2000). In November 2000, the East Timor Defense Force was established, drawn from FALINTIL.[344]

Despite allegations of mine use by pro-Indonesian militiamen in 1999, peacekeeping forces have not encountered landmines. A pro-Indonesian militia commander, Eurico Gueterres, has said that neither his forces nor pro-independent East Timorese forces used mines: “To avoid more victims of innocent compatriots, as Deputy Commander of East Timor Fighter Troops for Integration, I confirm that my troops and I never use antipersonnel landmines since our integration with Indonesia so far. We never ever see such weapons in the area of East Timor.”[345]

While East Timor is apparently not affected by landmines, there are problems with other types of unexploded ordnance. Two UNTAET officials have confirmed to Landmine Monitor that while UNTAET peacekeeping forces have never found landmines anywhere in East Timor, they have encountered other unexploded ordnance, in small numbers, of unknown origin. Some may date from the Second World War.[346] Several incidents have been reported in the press. In Bacau, on 22 March 2000, at an abandoned military installation, four children tampered with a mortar or a shell which exploded; three died and the fourth was severely injured.[347] On 1 July 2000, three Portuguese UN soldiers were injured by fragments at a popular beach ten kilometers from Dili when they disturbed some unidentified unexploded device.[348]

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[344] Report of the Secretary-General on the UNTAET, 16 January 2001.
[345] Statement by Eurico Gueterres, Deputy Commander of East Timor Fighter Troops for Integration, Salemba Prison, Jakarta, 16 January 2001. He provided this statement in writing following a Landmine Monitor interview.
[346] Interview with Elizabeth Murthy, Political Officer of UNTAET, Jakarta, 30 January 2001; interview with Martin Roonberg, Security Officer of UNTAET, Jakarta, 19 February 2001.
[347] LUSA (Portuguese News Agency), 22 March 2000.
[348] “U.N. soldiers injured in beach explosion in East Timor,” Associated Press (Dili), 1 July 2000.