chapter  8
The Continuation of Violence and Insecurity
Pages 18

Courts and truth commissions are central to the attainment of justice for torture victims. The previous two chapters have described the ‘successes’ of such transitional justice mechanisms in Timor-Leste. For instance, through CAVR activities and serious crimes proceedings, the scale and depravity of violence during Indonesian occupation has been highlighted. These mechanisms acknowledged the physical and psychological suffering endured by victims and the CAVR, in particular, illustrated the range of perpetrators involved in violations. Such ‘truths’ provide a crucial first step in dealing with the past. For the CAVR, which also engaged thousands of Timorese in culturally inclusive practices, this recognition has underpinned a renewed social engagement between previous opponents. It has made a powerful difference to the lives of some victims. These advancements have, however, been downgraded as a consequence of

other justice failings. For instance, recognition-based justice has been undermined as a result of the restrictive mandates and policy decisions of transitional justice bodies. Recognition has also been limited by institutional incapacities to provide due process as a result of inadequate funds and staff, time constraints, structural ‘blindness’, or political reticence. For some torture victims, this has meant that they have been completely disqualified from programmes to shame or punish their perpetrators. At the same time, transitional justice measures have often worked in

exclusionary ways. Criminal justice bodies, even the ‘hybrid’ serious crimes process that was established around participatory ideals, operated without much Timorese involvement. While the criminal justice bodies regularly ignored local capacities, they also failed to build local skills. More broadly, victim’s participation has been hindered by a range of factors, including institutional distancing and management; the minimizing behaviour of perpetrators; and, personal difficulties in accessing transitional justice events. These have combined to close down representational justice. Human rights bodies have, then, perpetuated injustices with regards to

recognition and representation. Ultimately, this has resulted in a situation in which Timorese people have been identified as ‘the perpetrators’ while Indonesians officials have circumnavigated official criticism. The culpability

of Timorese individuals has been maximized, which is an issue exemplified by how Timorese witnesses and defendants lost protection within legal proceedings and faced devaluation, intimidation, and ill-treatment. In these instances, violence has continued under the new dynamics of transitional justice. In this context it is clear that transitional justice bodies for Timor-Leste

have also provided a limited form of redistributive justice. Notwithstanding the shaming and punishment of Timorese deponents, and the tokenistic reparations offered by the CAVR, these bodies have failed to challenge structural disparities. In the legitimizing maintenance of economic and political power for the principal Indonesian violators, and their international supporters, Timorese victims have not been established as full partners in social life. Moreover, those who have continued to demand justice – in the form of reparations or prosecutions – have faced official stigmatization. They are effectively denied the ability to make claims. Of course, most aspects of redistributive justice lie outside the reasonable

remit of transitional justice institutions. Their mandates and aims do not tend to reflect the structured injustices that underpin human rights violations. Yet to be truly effective, transitional institutions have to be connected to wider programmes of social change. After all, these bodies do not occur in a vacuum – truth and criminal justice cannot, by themselves, provide peace. With this in mind, this chapter turns to the wider social justice issues that contextualize victims’ lives. It assesses whether, despite these institutional failings, victims might still be able to lead a ‘good life’ in Timor-Leste. To progress this evaluation, this chapter first returns to the idea of statecraft.