11 February 2017

Petition to the House of Australian House of on the maritime border with East Timor

The NSW Timor Sea Justice Forum has initiated a formal paper petition to the House of Representatives. (see links at foot of post)

A group has formed as the NSW Petition Group for organisation purposes. Thanks to the 12 people who agreed to do this. A good, strong, workable group.

It is intended to be printed on one sheet, back and front. The back shows a map and describes the issue as simply as possible. Download it here.

The petition as it stands can’t be signed online, but must be printed and then signed, with the paper itself being returned/posted to me.

However, it will go online in June on the Petitions Committee website, but can only be there for four weeks.

The timing is such that the online signatures can then be combined with the paper ones and will be presented together. That was the advice I received.

There will be plenty of notice about this.

As a paper petition, this is designed to pick up some of those who do not, will not, or cannot access online petitions.

There is no age limit on who can sign, and addresses are not required.

You are encouraged to send it out widely.

The Parliamentary Petitions Committee has given advice about this petition.  Here is the link to the Committee if you would like more information.


You can also sign the statement to the Foreign Minister on the Timor Sea Justice Campaign website in Melbourne too, as well as this formal Petition to the House.



Thanks to Sr. Susan Connelly

TIMFO.ORG NSW Timor Sea Justice Forum supports East Timor's campaign to determine its maritime boundary with Australia

TIMFO.ORGhttp://timfo.org/ - There is no maritime boundary between our two countries, only provisional arrangements for resource sharing. The Timorese people say that "drawing the line" is an important and final step in fully determining their sovereign territory.

The video trailer for a new documentary "Timor to Draw the Line" gives you a glimpse of the history and context of this final struggle.

This map shows what the boundary is likely to look like according to the application of international law - courtesy of Timor-Leste's Maritime Boundary Office

This map shows what the boundary is likely to look like according to the application of international law - courtesy of Timor-Leste's Maritime Boundary Office

East Timor Council of Ministers’ meeting of February 7th, 2017

Presidency of the Council of Ministers

Sixth Constitutional Government

Dili, February 7th, 2017

Press Release

Council of Ministers meeting of February 7th, 2017

The Council of Ministers met on Tuesday at the Government Palace in Dili, and approved the proposals for financing agreements with the European Union for the Afforestation and Sustainable Agriculture Programme and for the Public Finance Management Strengthening Programme, for the period 2017-2021. These financing proposals arise following the adoption, last year, of the indicative programme of the European Union / Africa, Caribbean and Pacific for Timor-Leste. The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the European Union, concerning the deployment of observers from that international institution for both presidential and legislative elections this year in Timor-Leste, was also approved.

The National Policy for the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for the period 2017 to 2019, presented by the Coordinator of ICT from the Prime Minister's Office, was approved. It is a cross-sectional policy for the ICT sector, which aims to coordinate functions of different entities with responsibility in that area. With this policy, the Government intends to promote the use of ICT through the provision of government services (Electronic Government), to stimulate and diversify the domestic economy and more competitively integrate Timor-Leste in the regional and global economies. The policy envisages the creation of a consistent and integrated legal regime, formed by a set of laws that can guarantee a safe environment in the use of ICT, including laws on cybercrime, electronic transactions and data protection, as well as regulations and institutions related to them.

The draft law on the establishment of the Asset Recovery Office and the Asset Administration Office, presented by the Ministry of Justice, was approved. That entity will have a mission to help the judicial authorities identify and locate assets related to the practice of crimes and their apprehension for legal purposes.

The Secretary of State for the Support and Socio-Economic Promotion of Women saw two proposals adopted. The first was the Government Resolution approving the National Action Plan Against Gender-based Violence, for 2017-2021. The plan approved in 2012 is now revised according to the governing powers provided for in the Law Against Domestic Violence. The preparation of this Action Plan was preceded by a process of consultation and provides a comprehensive approach. It was developed in accordance with principles of equality, consent, information, protection and security, as well as with the principles and obligations to protect human rights, professional obligations and rules of conduct, responsibility of the government and an approach centred on the victim. It invests in the prevention of gender-based violence, access to justice and the provision of multi-sector services for victims. It also sets coordination mechanisms to ensure effective implementation including monitoring and evaluation.

The second proposal from this Secretary of State approved at this meeting was the signing of the Addendum to the Technical Cooperation Protocol between the Government of the Portuguese Republic and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste on gender equality. This Protocol, signed in 2012, has been developed in order to achieve the goals of sustainable development and other international commitments on human rights; of particular note are the agreements in the field of gender equality, including the Strategic Plan for Cooperation on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in the CPLP. The addendum now approved reinforces the principles of knowledge and experience sharing, broadening the scope of activities to be developed between both countries.

The Council of Ministers adopted three proposals presented by the Ministry of Social Solidarity, regarding the contributory scheme of Social Security, recently approved by the National Parliament. The first, the Legal Regime of Disability and Old Age Pensions, regulates protection in situations of disability and old age; the second, the Legal Regime of Protection in Maternity, Paternity and Adoption, regulates protection in situations of maternity, paternity and adoption; and the third, the Legal Regime of Death Benefits, regulates the allowances to which relatives are entitled.

The Registration and Contributory Obligation System was analysed and should soon be submitted for approval by the Council of Ministers.

The Ministry of Finance, together with the Directorate General of the Treasury, took stock of the progress of the monitoring of the financial activity of autonomous services and funds, underway since 2016. This monitoring follows the process of decentralization of financial management, which gave autonomous services and funds of the State full administrative and financial autonomy. These services include the Port Administration in Timor-Leste - PATL, the Airports and Air Navigation Administration in Timor-Leste – ANATL in Portuguese, the National University of Timor Lorosa'e - NUTL, the courts, the Guido Valadares Nacional Hospital, the Equipment Management Institute, the Autonomous Service of Medication and Health Equipments – SAMES in Portuguese, the Institute for Research, Development, Training and Promotion of Bamboo, the Specialized Investment Agency – SIA, the Archive and Museum of Timorese Resistance - AMRT, and the municipalities. ENDS etljb

Government pays respects to Sir Elihu Lauterpacht CBE QC LLD

Minister of State and of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and

Official Spokesperson for the Government of Timor-Leste

 Dili, February 10th, 2017

Government pays respects to Sir Elihu Lauterpacht CBE QC LLD

It is with deep regret that the Government of Timor-Leste has received news of the passing of Sir Elihu Lauterpacht on the 8th of February 2017. “Sir Eli” was a giant in international law, with an illustrious career that spanned over 60 years in practice and academia.

The Government conveys its condolences to Sir Eli’s family and friends, particularly Lady Catherine Lauterpacht, sons Michael and Connor, and daughters Gabrielle and Deborah.

Elihu Lauterpacht was born in Cricklewood, London, on the 13th of July 1928, the son of Hersch and Rachel Lauterpacht. His father, the late Sir Hersch, played a primary, pioneering role in the emergence of the modern system of international law, a legacy continued and honored by Sir Eli through his work and through the founding of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge.

Sir Elihu studied at Trinity College Cambridge, was called to the Bar in 1950 and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1970. In his specialist area of international law he worked as an advocate, advisor, arbiter and judge. He was also a lecturer, reader and Honorary Professor of International Law at Cambridge University.

Sir Elihu’s many appearances before the International Court of Justice included his representation of Timor-Leste in the case “Questions Relating to the Seizure and Detention of Certain Documents and Data” which included public hearings at The Hague in January 2014. He advised the Government of Timor-Leste on matters regarding international law over several years and was deeply committed to seeing just outcomes for our nation.

Government Spokesperson, Minister of State Agio Pereira, noted “Sir Eli was a remarkable human being. He was one of the world’s greatest intellects and a fierce and formidable advocate at law. And he was also a true gentleman, charming, kind and generous. The Government recalls his passion for justice, his monumental contribution to the development of international law and his abiding concern for the fair treatment of Timor-Leste. It was a great honour to have him serve our country and he and Lady Cathy will always be considered dear friends of Timor-Leste.”ENDS etljb

10 February 2017

East Timor's ex-Finance Minister Amelia Pires guilty of "crimes of economic participation in business" gets 7 years gaol, says East Timor's judges not competent to judge her

Emilia PiresSource ABC Australian citizen, former East Timorese minister fights against 'unfair' seven-year jail sentence for corruption By Anne Barker
East Timor's former finance minister and dual Australian citizen Emilia Pires is fighting to have her name cleared over charges she corruptly awarded a $1 million contract to her husband's company in Melbourne.

Key points:

  • Court finds Emilia Pires guilty of "crimes of economic participation in business"
  • Prosecutors allege she corruptly awarded contracts for hospital beds to her husband's Melbourne company
  • Pires says she was "not involved in any way" and is appealing against decision
Pires has been sentenced to seven years' jail, and sought to have her appeal referred to a court in Portugal on the grounds East Timor's judges were biased against her and denied her a fair trial.
The District Court in Dili found Pires guilty in December of "crimes of economic participation in business".

Prosecutors alleged she corruptly awarded two contracts for 260 hospital beds and equipment to her husband Warren Macleod's company Mac's Metalcraft, based at Dandenong South in Melbourne.
However, the defence argued she never approved or signed the contracts.

The contracts, worth more than $1 million, were to supply hydraulic and orthopaedic beds to Dili's Guido Valadares Hospital.

East Timor's former vice minister for health, Madalena Hanjam, was sentenced to four years for her role in the alleged corruption.

Prosecutors in Dili have now lodged an appeal to increase Pires' sentence to 10 years and Hanjam's sentence to seven.

During the trial prosecutors argued Pires had in 2012, as then finance minister, personally approved the funding and contracts for the beds as "an emergency", namely to respond to an outbreak of dengue fever in early 2012.

In the case against her, the prosecution argued there was no such dengue outbreak at the time, that the beds were unnecessary, they were not delivered until 2013, they had remained unused and in their packaging — therefore, East Timor's Government had incurred a loss.

Prosecutors cited two occasions in 2012 where the then ministers had lunched in Dili with Pires's husband, allegedly to discuss the contracts.

Pires's defence counsel argued she regularly had lunch with all government ministers and if her husband was in Dili there was nothing illegal or suspicious about him accompanying them.
Trial unbalanced, unfair, lawyers argue
The defence also argued the dengue fever outbreak was widely documented and that key witnesses — including two former prime ministers — had attested to the desperate need for new beds at Guido Valadares Hospital.

One former prime minister, Jose Ramos-Horta, reportedly visited the hospital at the time.

The defence counsel said in its closing arguments Mr Ramos-Horta had seen a "large number of sick people sleeping on the floor".
"He often saw two children on one bed. He said there was an 'epidemic'," the closing argument stated.
Another witness had reported the hospital's "beds, mattresses, pillows and linens were from the time of the Indonesian occupation and that they were rusty and infested with bedbugs, and the mattresses and sheets with blood stains".

Furthermore, the Ministry of Health had identified Mac's Metalcraft as "the only supplier of hydraulic beds for orthopaedic and the ICU (intensive care unit) and […] the same beds are used in many hospitals in Australia".

Another former prime minister, Xanana Gusmao, gave evidence that no Timorese company manufactured such beds.

Pires's lawyer argued the trial was unbalanced and unfair from the outset and prosecutors had decided the defendants were guilty and sought to find evidence.

However, the prosecution alleged Pires had colluded with Hanjam and her husband to award the contracts.

A letter from February 2012 shows Pires had written to Hanjam, who was then vice minister for health, advising that her "request for funds … to purchase equipment has been approved by the prime Mmnister [Xanana Gusmao]".

"With this approval, your ministry can now proceed to start the implementation of this transaction," the letter said.
"Please note that the approval was given on the premise that the requested funding will not be used for any other purpose."

'I was not involved in any way': Pires

Both women have lodged appeals against their convictions.
Pires, who left the country before the sentence was handed down, is now in Portugal. Neither Australia nor Portugal — or indeed any country — has an extradition treaty with East Timor.

She has also lodged a formal request to have her case referred to a court in Portugal, on the grounds East Timor's judges were prejudiced against her and lacked the "capacity or will to ensure justice".
In a recent letter to President Taur Matan Ruak, she complained of "serious inaccuracies and irregularities within [East Timor's] judicial system", and proclaimed her innocence.

She appealed to him to establish an international commission of "eminent, reputable and renowned specialists to examine not just the details of my case but the inherent deficiencies in the system".

"The Timorese people rightly expect the process through which justice is administered to be trustworthy, independent, transparent, efficient and fair," the letter said.
"I was not involved in any way in the awarding of the contracts. Moreover, the procurement systems are such that I simply could not have been involved even if I wanted to.
"The procurement of goods and services in this type of situation was the sole domain of the responsible ministry, in this case the Ministry of Health.

"They, and they alone, had the authority to decide what to purchase, and who to purchase it from.
"Indeed, it is clear and undeniable that I did not decide to purchase beds, that I did not choose the supplier of the beds, that I did not negotiate the contracts, that I did not sign the contracts, that I did not approve the contracts and that I did not order the payment of the beds.

"That was all done in the Ministry of Health, which was the competent entity and did what it had to do in accordance with the existing laws."

Former prime minister proclaims Pires' innocence

Mr Gusmao, now East Timor's Minister of Planning and Strategic Investment, recently wrote a separate letter to Mr Ruak, proclaiming Pires's innocence and accusing the judiciary of corruption.
Pires said the Dili District Court rejected her request to have her appeal heard in Portugal, but she is now appealing against that decision.
The court has made no public comment but senior legal figures in Dili have defended the judicial process and accused Mr Gusmao of political interference.
Pires was born in East Timor but moved to Melbourne with her family in 1975 to flee the violence that followed Indonesia's occupation.

She studied in Melbourne and began her career as a public servant in the Victorian Government.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-10/australian-fights-against-east-timors-unfair-jail-sentence/8256952

03 February 2017

Timor-Leste ranked first in South East Asia in 2016 Democracy Index

Minister of State and of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and

Official Spokesperson for the Government of Timor-Leste
 Dili, February 2nd, 2017
Timor-Leste ranked first in South East Asia in 2016 Democracy Index
The Democracy Index 2016, published by the Economist Intelligence Unit on the 25th of January, has ranked Timor-Leste as the top country in South East Asia based on a consideration of electoral process and pluralism, the functioning of the Government, political participation, political culture and civil liberties. The index attempts to provide “a snapshot of the state of democracy worldwide for 165 independent states and two territories”.

In the 2016 Index Timor-Leste was ranked 1st in South East Asia, 5th in Asia and 43rd of all states assessed. The country score for the last four years has remained steady at 7.24 out of 10 in an environment where almost half of the countries covered have registered a decline in their scores between 2006 and 2016.

Timor-Leste scores highly in regards to our electoral process and pluralism, which reflects our free and fair elections, universal suffrage, efforts to ensure the freedoms of voters and arrangements for an orderly transfer of administrations.

Government Spokesperson, Minister of State Agio Pereira, noted “international measuring tools, such as the Democracy Index, are constantly faced with the challenge of ensuring accuracy. However, what we do see clearly reflected in the index and in other international measures is that our freedoms set out in the Constitution, particularly in regard to our electoral process and pluralism, are being firmly upheld. As we approach the Presidential election on the 20th of March and the Parliamentary elections later in the year, we again embrace and affirm these rights, mindful that in many parts of the world citizens are not afforded such rights and responsibilities.”ENDS

Time to Draw the Line

The world fell in love with Timor-Leste when it was born as a new nation after 25 years of turmoil and war. Australia’s peace keeping force helped with its peaceful transition into nationhood. Now, over a decade later, the dark story of Australia’s relationship with this new nation must be told.

TIME TO DRAW THE LINE presents the campaign for a fair go for East Timor and that nation’s desire to settle its long-running maritime boundary dispute with Australia. Interviews include those Australians who are on the side (of the line) of the East Timorese and on the right side of history.

"It’s fantastic. A strong argument, but also a terrific study of a period of history too. Congratulations, it is a very significant work on this issue". Robert Connolly, Director ‘Balibo’ 'Barracuda'. The film will also screen with the animated documentary short, Jose’s Story - Jose Nia Istória.

29 January 2017

East Timor National Holidays 2017

National holidays in 2017
Presidency of the Council of Ministers
Sixth Constitutional Government
Dili, January 18th, 2017

Press Release
National holidays in 2017

The public holidays with a fixed date and variable date for 2017, determined by the Law n.10/2005 of 10th of August, are:

a) 1st of January – New Year’s Day (fixed date public holiday)

b) 3rd of March – Veterans Day (fixed date public holiday)

c) 14th of April – Holy Friday (variable date public holiday)

d) 1st of May – World Labour Day (fixed date public holiday)

e) 20th of May – Restoration of Independence Day (fixed date public holiday);

f) 15th of June – Corpus Christi (variable date public holiday);

g) 26th of June – Idul Fitri (variable date public holiday);

h) 30th of August – Popular Consultation Day (fixed date public holiday);

j) 1st of September – Idul Adha (variable date public holiday);

j) 1st of November – All Saints Day (fixed date public holiday);

k) 2nd of November – All Souls Day (fixed date public holiday);

l) 12th of November –National Youth Day (fixed date public holiday);

m) 28th of November – Proclamation of Independence Day (fixed date public holiday);

n) 7th of December – Memorial Day (fixed date public holiday);

o) 8th of December – Day of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception and Timor-Leste Patroness (fixed date public holiday);

p) 25th of December – Christmas Day (fixed date public holiday).

q) 31st of December – National Heroes Day (fixed date public holiday).

The Law n. 10/2005, of 10th of August, determines national public holidays, official commemorative dates and the granting of days-off, and has been amended by Law n. 3/2016, of 25th of May, to recognise key historical dates of the Timorese Struggle for National Liberation. ENDS




Delegations from both Timor-Leste and Australia participated in a series of confidential meetings with the Conciliation Commission in Singapore from 16 to 20 January 2017. These meetings are part of an ongoing, structured dialogue in the context of the conciliation between the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste and the Commonwealth of Australia being conducted pursuant to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

These meetings will continue over the course of the year in an effort to resolve the differences between the two States over maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea. In October 2016, the Conciliation Commission reached agreement with the Parties on certain confidence-building measures, which included a series of actions by both Timor-Leste and Australia to demonstrate each Party’s commitment to the conciliation process and to create the conditions conducive to the achievement of an agreement on permanent maritime boundaries. As part of this integrated package of confidence-building measures, the Foreign Ministers of TimorLeste and Australia and the Conciliation Commission issued a Trilateral Joint Statement on 9 January 2017, noting Timor-Leste’s intention to terminate the Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea and setting out the Parties’ agreement on the legal consequences of such termination.

On 10 January 2017, Timor-Leste formally notified Australia of the termination of the Treaty, which shall cease to be in force on 10 April 2017, in accordance with its terms. Over the course of the week, the Commission met with the Parties to explore their negotiating positions on where the maritime boundary in the Timor Sea should be set with a view to identifying possible areas of agreement for discussion in future meetings. Both Timor-Leste and Australia agreed that the meetings were productive, and reaffirmed their commitment to work in good faith towards an agreement on maritime boundaries by the end of the conciliation process in September 2017.

The Commission intends to do its utmost to help the Parties reach an agreement that is both equitable and achievable. Recognizing that the Parties are undertaking good faith negotiations on permanent maritime boundaries, and in continuation of the confidence-building measures and the dialogue between the Parties, on Friday, 20 January 2017, Timor-Leste wrote to the tribunals in the two arbitrations it had initiated with Australia under the Timor Sea Treaty in order to withdraw its claims. These arbitrations had previously been suspended by agreement of the two governments following the Commission’s meeting with the Parties in October 2016.

The withdrawal of these arbitrations was the last step in the integrated package of confidence-building measures agreed during the Commission’s meetings with the Parties in October 2016. The Commission and the Parties recognise the importance of providing stability and certainty for petroleum companies with current rights in the Timor Sea. The Parties are committed to providing a stable framework for existing petroleum operations.

They have agreed that the 2002 Timor Sea Treaty and its supporting regulatory framework will remain in force between them in its original form until a final delimitation of maritime boundaries has come into effect. As this process continues, the Commission and the Parties will ensure that the issue of transitional arrangements for any new regime will be included in the program of work for the conciliation with a view to ensuring that current rights of these companies are respected. Timor-Leste and Australia enjoy a close and strong friendship.

The governments of both countries are committed to their important relationship and working together on many shared interests. This statement is being issued simultaneously by the Government of Timor-Leste, the Government of Australia, and the Permanent Court of Arbitration on behalf of the Conciliation Commission.

Trilateral Joint Statement 24 January 2017

04 January 2017

Difficult memories The independence struggle as cultural heritage in East Timor

By Michael Leach
This chapter examines the way difficult sites of imprisonment, trauma and resistance are being remembered in the newly independent nation of East Timor.

While the difficult challenge of memorialising massacre sites, places of political imprisonment, torture and human rights abuses confronts many post-conflict societies, few represent as profound a loss as Timor-Leste, having suffered an estimated minimum 102,000 casualties during the Indonesian occupation from 1975 to 1999, along with forced population displacements and extensive nonfatal
human rights violation through arbitrary detention, torture and rape (CAVR).
In Timor-Leste, these difficult legacies are complicated by the distinct cultural and linguistic affiliations promoted by successive colonial regimes, political schisms within the former independence movement, a lack justice for the victims of human rights abuses during the Indonesian occupation, and the recent rise of regional tensions. These fissures have complicated the process of nation-building, and the articulation of a unifying post-colonial national identity. As such, they are critical to understanding the cultural heritage of the independence struggle and its conservation in Timor-Leste, which is itself an exercise in articulating cultural nationalism.

See the full chapter at http://www.cultura.gov.tl/sites/default/files/MLeach_Difficult_memories_2008.pdf

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