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31 October 2014

Parliament and Government must respect the independence of the judiciary and separation of powers

ETLJB 31/10/2014 JSMP Press Release 30 October 2014 -  Parliament and Government must respect the independence of the judiciary and separation of powers

Today JSMP held a press conference to encourage the Government and the National Parliament to respect the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers.

This is in response to the recent Resolutions of the National Parliament and the Government to immediately terminate the contracts of all international judicial officers, including international judges, prosecutors and public defenders.

“These resolutions violate the principles of judicial independence and separation of powers which are enshrined in our Constitution,” said JSMP Executive Director Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

It is not for the parliament or the government to remove judicial officers through a resolution. This can only be done in accordance with the law. Removing judicial officers arbitrarily, whether international or national, threatens the rule of law and a citizen’s right to a fair trial in Timor-Leste.

The National Parliament passed this resolution on Friday 24 October 2014 in a closed session of parliament.  The resolution calls for the Government to conduct an audit of the judicial system in Timor-Leste and to immediately terminate the contracts of all international judges, prosecutors, defenders and other international advisors working in the judicial system.  The Government’s resolution adopts the measures called for in the resolution from the National Parliament.

JSMP is very concerned about the effect of these resolutions on the independence of the judiciary in Timor-Leste, and on the ongoing ability of the justice system to function day to day.

The sudden removal of international judicial actors and advisors will seriously interrupt the regular operation of the courts and the continuing development of the legal system in Timor-Leste.

The resolution has already led to the suspension of all international trainers in the Legal Training College. This will have serious consequences for training future Timorese judges, prosecutors, defenders and lawyers.

JSMP observes that the legal system in Timor-Leste is still developing and the courts have an increasing number of cases to process.  The courts already need more resources to do their work effectively. These resolutions will take important resources away from an already fragile justice system.

“JSMP believes these resolutions will set back the development of the legal system in Timor-Leste and are not in Timor-Leste’s national interest,” said Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

The President of the Court of Appeal issued a directive to all Chief Justices stating that the resolutions have no effect and that international judges and court staff are to continue their functions.

JSMP urges the National Parliament and the Government to reconsider these resolutions and immediately take appropriate actions to guarantee the independence of the judiciary.

See also East Timor's Parliament resolves to terminate all foreign judges

Meeting of the East Timor Council of Ministers of 21 October 2014

ETLJB 31/10/2014 Presidency of the Council of Ministers V Constitutional Government Dili, October 21st, 2014 Press Release

The Council of Ministers met on Tuesday, October 21st, 2014, in the Council of Ministers meeting room, at the Government Palace, in Dili, and approved seven diplomas:

1. Second Amendment on the Law of Electoral Administration Bodies

Under the scope of the growth and strengthening framework for national institutions, and taking into account the experience acquired in the last few years, it has become necessary to make adjustments in order to provide the National Electoral Commission (NEC) of resources that allow it to develop and exercise its institutional roles in an efficient, rational and effective way.

Therefore, the Government considers it appropriate, within the current framework of the NEC, for the existence of a permanent functioning quorum, allowing greater stability and consolidation of its functions.

2. Government Resolution approving the assignment for the construction of the Waste Treatment Factory of Tibar to the company Shun Hsin Constructions & Development, Ltd.

Following the presentation at the Council of Ministers’ meeting from August 19th, the Government once again evaluated the implications of the construction of a Waste Treatment Factory in Tibar, proposed by the company Shun Hsin, having expressed their agreement, in principle, to this investment.

It should be emphasized that population growth of the cities and consumption have been contributing to aggravate environmental conditions, mainly in urban areas, and thus it is urgent to take a decision on pollution treatment. The proposal by the Shun Hsin Company includes not only the collection and storage of waste, but also the treatment and reuse of organic waste.

3. Government Resolution approving the establishment of the Timor-Leste National Culture Day

Timor-Leste has, nowadays, an extreme richness in terms of tangible and intangible expressions of its Culture, including traditional knowledge that shows itself through different languages and dialects.

In order to celebrate this cultural richness and diversity of Timor-Leste, October 14th was chosen to celebrate this event, the date of  the late poet Francisco Borja da Costa’s birthday, who, through his poems – such as “Pátria” (in English “Homeland”) (lyrics of the National Antehm of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste) – played a part in the national liberation struggle.

Borja da Costa was born on October 14th, 1946, in Fatu-Belak, Fatu-Berliu. Son of António da Costa, the Liurai of said kingdom, and of Alcina da Costa, the poet would come to be murdered in the early morning of December 7, 1975.

The poems of Borja da Costa were written with the aim of raising awareness on the oppressed people, while not forgetting the regional problems of educational nature and general development.

As an outstanding representative of the Timorese Culture, Borja da Costa symbolizes the diversity of cultural expressions in Timor-Leste. The National Culture Day of Timor-Leste should thus serve to remember and honor his figure, but also to raise public awareness about the need to dignify Culture and national artists, and thus honor all those who engage in the practice of artistic and cultural activities. The National Culture Day highlights the importance of Culture for the sustainable development of the country, promoting values of citizenship, peace and social cohesion.

4. Resolution proposal of the Government, approving the ratification of the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1973)

This Resolution Proposal from the Government intends for the National Parliament to ratify the UNESCO Convention of November 16th, 1972, on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

This Convention’s objective is to identify, protect, conserve, enhance and transmit, to future generations, the cultural and natural heritage located in Timor-Leste, which, as a reminder, is a full member of UNESCO since 2002.

Through this Convention, the country may also benefit from technical assistance from international cooperation, particularly in the financial, artistic, scientific and technical fields.

5. Resolution Proposal, from the Government, approving the ratification of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003)

This Convention is aimed at the protection and safeguarding of practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, eventually, individuals recognize as being part of their cultural heritage.

The text, approved by the Council of Ministers, proposes that the National Parliament ratify this UNESCO Convention, dated October 17th, 2003, on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Timor-Leste is a full member of UNESCO since 2002.

6. Resolution Proposal, from the Government, approving the ratification of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005)
This Resolution Proposal from the Government submits, to the assessment of the National Parliament, the ratification of the UNESCO Convention dated October 20th, 2005, on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. This agreement aims to protect, promote and respect the diversity of cultural expressions, foster interculturalism, in order to develop interaction, by building bridges between peoples, to adopt and implement policies and measures that are appropriate to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions, in the respective territory.

Timor-Leste is a full member of UNESCO since 2002.

7. Government Resolution on the INTERPOL travel document

The International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL, of which Timor-Leste is a member, aims to guarantee and promote mutual assistance between criminal police authorities.

Thus, it is up to the member States to undertake all efforts in order to strengthen and develop mechanisms for an effective and rapid cooperation that can fight crime in an effective way, in line with the decisions taken within the General Assembly, according to article 9 of the Constitution of INTERPOL.

Under this scope, the INTERPOL travel document, adopted at the 81st General Assembly of the Organization, by facilitating the transportation and entry of officials of INTERPOL, its national offices or national criminal police authorities within the Member States, imposes itself as a mechanism of multilateral cooperation, in the sense it facilitates multilateral joint actions against transnational crime.

The Council of Ministers also analyzed two presentations:

1. Presentation on the Mission of the Timor-Leste Cooperation Agency in Guinea Bissau

The Cooperation Agency of Timor-Leste has made a progress status on the work undertaken in Guinea Bissau, were elections where recently held that ensured the democratic transition and national stability of the country.

The emergency support of the Mission of Timor-Leste covers several areas, namely financial support for payment of salaries to civil servants, along with support in order to ensure the functioning of State institutions, technical support, training and accompaniment in the areas of defense, security, communications, voter registration and health.

In September, the Cooperation Agency of Timor-Leste delivered financial assistance in the amount of six million dollars in order to help the payment of salaries to civil servants.

2. Presentation on the activities of the State Secretariat for the Promotion of Equality

The Secretary of State for Promotion of Equality carried out visits to all districts / municipalities to promote and prepare the implementation of the Decentralization Policy of Local Government, which will gradually be delegated to the municipalities. The main purpose of these visits is to install the Asosiasaun Feto Potensial Distrital (Association of Women with Potential in Districts).

The Secretary of State also informed the Council of Ministers about the preparations for the commemoration of the 37th National Women's Day, in Manatuto. Source: http://timor-leste.gov.tl/?p=10810&lang=en 

East Timor Court of Appeal declares trial of former Criminal Investigation Unit Chief Invalid

East Timor's Court of Appeal
ETLJB 31/10/2014 (Translation from Tetum) Source: Notisias Online, Top News October 29, 2014 DILI – The Timor-Leste Court of Appeal has ruled that the conviction of the former Criminal Investigation Unit head Calisto Gonzaga by the Dili District Court was based on a mistrial and has ordered a new trial because the Dili District Court did not hear the testimony of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and Timor-Leste National Police Commander Longuinhos Monteiro.

According to Calisto Gonzaga’s defence counsel, Sergio Paulo Dias Quintas, on Tuesday 28 October 2014 the Court of Appeal annulled the conviction of the accused and sentence to 9 years jail by the Dili District Court.

The retrial will be for the court to receive the testimony of two witnesses listed by the defence side, one being PNTL Commander Longuinhos Monteiro and the other Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, Sergio told journalists during a press conference at the Public Defenders office in Kintal Bot last Wednesday (29-10-2014).

Defence counsel explained that the court will now be able to hear Calisto’s allegations that he was only following the government’s orders for him to act as he did, and therefor defence counsel believed that his client would be absolved in any retrial. The complete story may be found in STLs article on the web edition Thursday (30-10-2014). Timotio Gusmao/Domingas Gomes Source: http://suara-timor-lorosae.com/la-rona-deklarasaun-xanana-long-tr-konsidera-desizaun-tdd-ba-kazu-calisto-la-vale

29 October 2014

Summary of Cases Involving Gender Based Violence in Dili District Court during July 2014

ETLJB 29/10/2014 From the East Timor Judicial System Monitoring Program Press Release 28 October 2014


In July 2014 the Women’s and Children’s Justice Unit (WCJU) of JSMP continued to monitor trials of cases involving gender based violence at the Dili District Court. This edition summarizes 26 cases that were tried at the Dili District Court.

From these 26 cases, 25 were categorized as simple offences against physical integrity characterized as domestic violence and 1 case involved the crime of rape. In 5 of these cases fines were issued, in 9 cases jail sentences were handed down, however their execution was suspended, in 1 case an agreement was validated, in 3 cases the defendants were acquitted and the other 8 cases are still ongoing.

The information below outlines the cases observed:
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