14 July 2009

UNTAET Regulation No 27 of 2000 on the prohibition of land transactions in East Timor by Indonesian citizens

2004 ETLJ 3 Some Observations on UNTAET Regulation No 27 of 2000 on the Temporary Prohibition of Transactions in Land in East Timor by Indonesian Citizens not Habitually Resident in East Timor and by Indonesian Corporations

Introduction and Background
This regulation was enacted by the Transitional Administrator on 14 August 2000. As the title suggests, it temporarily prohibits transactions in land in East Timor by Indonesian citizens not habitually resident in East Timor and by Indonesian corporations.

During the Indonesian occupation of East Timor which began with the full-scale invasion on 07 December 1976 until the the administration of the territory was granted by the United Nations Security Council to UNTAET (United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor), the Indonesian State granted about 40 000 land rights under its Basic Agrarian Law; many of which grants were made to Indonesian citizens and corporations. In the lead up to the Popular Consultation which occurred on 30 August 1999 and in the wake of the destruction of the country by the Indonesian military and militia groups, most Indonesians fled East Timor and abandoned their properties. Many of the Indonesian citizens who fled subsequently sold or leased their land to either East Timorese citizens or to the many foreigners and foreign businesses who entered East Timor once law and order had been restored by INTERFET (the International Force in East Timor led by the Australian military).

This was seen as unjust enrichment of of Indonesian citizens and corporations, who, although they may not have borne personal responsibility for the mass human rights abuses and the destruction of the country, were nonetheless citizens of an illegal and tyrannical occupier that had caused immeasurable pain, suffering and death to the East Timorese people and nation and which had no intention of making reparations for the massive losses of life and property during its brutal occupation.

This alone should have been enough reason to enact a law prohibiting the sale or lease of land in East Timor owned by Indonesians. The considerations in the preamble of this Regulation state that the Regulation was enacted "[f]or the purpose of ensuring that, pending the outcome of assets and claims discussions between UNTAET and the Government of the Republic of Indonesia, the legitimate claims of the people of East Timor against the Republic of Indonesia, Indonesian citizens, and Indonesian corporations, are not prejudiced."

Overview of UNTAET Regulation No 27 of 2000

Read the full article on East Timor Law Journal

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