‘Orphans’ or Veterans? Justice for Children Born of War in East Timor
by Susan Harris Rimmer
The paper proceeds in two sections. First, I first provide an overview of the situation of sexual violence survivors and their children in East Timor. In the second section I discuss current approaches to the children and their mothers within the transitional justice mechanisms available in East Timor at this time. I aim to shift the current approach to children born of war in Timor from covert welfare assistance by the Catholic Church and NGOs, to a rights-based framework, where the affected children are publicly accepted with valid claims on the Government, rather than seen as by-products of a crime or sin. From this analysis it becomes clear that creative policy and legal options are required that would assist these families with integration, status and financial security. I conclude with one such proposal to improve the situation of these families: re-characterise the affected women and their children as “veterans” of the conflict, with the same status as the former Falintil guerrillas.