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UN rights commissioner to establish independent probe of East Timor violence

[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official website] told the UN Security Council [official website] Tuesday that he has asked the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] to establish an independent commission that will investigate the recent surge in violence [JURIST report] in East Timor [JURIST news archive]. "The sad events of recent weeks reflect shortcomings not only on the part of the Timorese leadership, but also on the part of the international community, in adequately sustaining Timor-Leste's nation-building process," Annan said [statement text], noting that the Timorese foreign affairs minister had requested the UN investigation. UN special envoy Ian Martin [official profile], who returned from the southeastern Asian republic last week, briefed the council on recommendations to quell the violence, including sustained international assistance to the Timorese police service.

At least 21 people in East Timor have been killed in clashes between soldiers and police [BBC report] in the past month. The UN sent more than 2,000 international peacekeepers to the Timorese capital of Dili, but that mission expired in May. Australia, which provided most of those peacekeepers, urged the Security Council on Tuesday to extend that mission and to create a new mission under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter [text]. "Given what has happened, we are now having to reassess our own presence on the ground," Annan told reporters [transcript; reported video] after leaving the Security Council meeting. Also on Tuesday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced [statement] that the first phase of a relief operation was complete, with the arrival in Dili of 150 tons of supplies to house some 63,000 Timorese who have fled looting and violence. AFP has more. The UN News Centre has additional coverage.

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