24 August 2016

East Timor Mining Code approval latest achievement in fulfilling Government Program

ETLJB 24 August 2016 Source: Government of East Timor Presidency of the Council of Ministers Dili, 15 August, 2016 Mining Code approval latest achievement in fulfilling Government Program

On Tuesday the 9th of August the Council of Ministers approved the Draft Mining Code. The development and Government approval of the Code marks another achievement in executing the Program of the Sixth Constitutional Government. The legislation now goes before National Parliament for consideration.

The Draft Code is a comprehensive piece of legislation that regulates all mining activities including recognition, prospecting, research, evaluation, development, exploitation, processing, refining and trading.

As noted in the preamble of the Code the regulation “is of extreme importance to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste in view of the impact of these activities will have on the provision of materials essential to the development, economic growth and prosperity of the Nation.”

In order to develop the Code in an informed and inclusive way broad consultations were undertaken with stakeholders. These included public consultations in all municipalities and zones, consultations with expert international law firms, dialogue with industry groups and companies, interaction with leading academics, and advice from the World Bank. Detailed opinions were also issued in the process of its development by issued the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Planning and Strategic Investment, the Authority of the Special Administrative Region of Oe-Cusse Ambeno and the Secretary of State of the Council of Ministers.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources led the process.

With its 20 sections, 148 articles and 3 annexes, the Code covers all phases of mining activities and includes provisions on Health and Safety, Environmental Protection, inclusion of Local Content, the Labor Scheme, applicable Offences and Penalties, Mining Registry, Transparency and Good Practices.

Preliminary studies have shown Timor-Leste to be prospective in metallic minerals such as manganese, gold, silver and copper, and non-metallic mineral such as limestone, marble, gypsum and sand and gravel.

Timor-Leste’s Institute of Petroleum and Geology, Division of Mineral Resources, is continuing to research the nation’s potential in metallic minerals [precious and base metals], gems, radioactive ores, industrial minerals [construction, manufacturing materials and ornamental rocks], rare ores and charcoal.

In February this year legislation was passed setting up the National Petroleum and Minerals Authority [ANPM] whose tasks include the supervision of all mining activities to ensure compliance with the enacted version of the Mining Code. The development and passing of this legislation establishing the mineral regulatory authority also marked the achievement of a legislative goal of the Program of the Government.

Spokesperson for the Sixth Constitutional Government, Minister of State Agio Pereira noted “the preparation of the Draft Mining Code has been an intense effort, with the Government seeking to deliver to National Parliament a world class Code which is appropriate for the context of Timor-Leste. We have sought to prepare something that is sensitive to culture and environment and also able to unlock the potential of our Nation’s mineral sector to bolster our economic growth and lift the prosperity of our people.

The Draft Code represents another achievement of the Government which is focused on executing its Program and delivering results.” ENDS

18 August 2016

Impoverished East Timorese pay for the Catholic Church via Government-Vatican Agreement

Image: Asia Sentinel
ETLJB Editorial 18 August 2016 - On 15 July 2015, the East Timor Council of Ministers approved the signing of the Framework Agreement for the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste’s Contribution to the Catholic Church
The agreement provides that the annual financial contribution of Timor-Leste to the Catholic Church, for social and educational activities and for purposes of ecclesial governance, is determined by specific agreements between the Government and Timor-Leste’s Episcopalian Conference, and is dependent on the availability of State funds. 

The East Timor Government's press release noted that '[i]t should be remembered that the terms of the financial contribution are set out in the agreement signed between Timor-Leste and the Holy See in August of last year.'

The Catholic Church's participation in the struggle for self determination throughout the Indonesian occupation from 1975 until 1999 is acknowledged in the country's Constitution. The Preamble states:

In its cultural and humane perspective, the Catholic Church in East Timor has always been able to take on the suffering of all the People with dignity, placing itself on their side in the defence of their most fundamental rights.

Article 12 of the Constitution (entitled Relationship between the State and religious denominations) states that:

1. There shall be no official religion of the State.

2. The State shall respect the different religious denominations, which are free in their organisation and in the exercise of their own activities, to take place in due observance of the Constitution and the law.

3. The State shall promote the cooperation with the different religious denominations that contribute to the well-being of the people of East Timor.

4. The religious denominations have the right to possess and to acquire assets for the achievement of their objectives.

It is arguable that the Constitution establishes a secular State with a clear separation of Church and State in East Timor. It is also clear that East Timor is one of the most impoverished nations on Earth, successive governments since the restoration of independence in 2002 have all indulged in the most scandalous corruption, abuses of power and anti-democratic actions.

Why, then, are the impoverished and long-suffering East Timorese people economically supporting the Catholic Church with funding through this bizarre agreement with the Vatican? The only explicit reference to the State being involved in religion is Article 12(3) but it speaks only of promoting cooperation with the different religious denominations that contribute to the well-being of the people.

On the contrary, it should be the Vatican that is providing support to the Government and people of East Timor. The church in East Timor owns vast estates of land. Yet, instead of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked on Sundays, it puts it hand out to the people to take money from the people. And now even public funds go to ecclesial governance.

Although there are degrees of separation between Church and State in various jurisdictions around the world, one of the precepts of this notion is that the State does not destroy but also does not support religion; particularly when it comes to tax payers money in an economy that is struggling to provide basic services to the community.
 
'The distance between the throne and the altar can never be too great.' Denis Diderot

Meeting of the East Timor Council of Ministers 15 July 2016

ETLJB 18 August 2016 Source: Government of East Timor Press Release Council of Ministers’ meeting of July 15th, 2016 

The Council of Ministers met this Friday at the Government Palace in Dili, and approved the signing of the Framework Agreement for the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste’s Contribution to the Catholic Church. 


The agreement provides that the annual financial contribution of Timor-Leste to the Catholic Church, for social and educational activities and for purposes of ecclesial governance, is determined by specific agreements between the Government and Timor-Leste’s Episcopalian Conference, and is dependent on the availability of State funds. It should be remembered that the terms of the financial contribution are set out in the agreement signed between Timor-Leste and the Holy See in August of last year.

On the appointment of the members of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), which is in progress, the Government must nominate one of the seven commissioners, in accordance with the second amendment to Law N. 5/2006, of December 28th. The Council of Ministers has identified Odete Maria Belo as a commissioner of the NEC and Teresinha Maria Noronha as alternate, and will now inform the National Parliament of its decision. 


The Council of Ministers also analysed the evolution of two major basic infrastructure projects: the improvement and maintenance of the road from Dili to Tibar and the operation and maintenance of the Hera and Betano power plants. The Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications also presented the payment process action plan for essential basic infrastructures projects.    

07 August 2016

Case Summary Oecusse District Court May 2016

Image belongs to Warren L. Wright
ETLJB7 July 2016  Source: East Timor Judicial System Monitoring Program Press Release Case Summary Oecusse District Court May 2016 Summary of the trial process at the Oecusse District Court

1.   Total cases observed by JSMP: 14
1.   Total number of ongoing cases based on JSMP monitoring: 0


1.      Crime of simple offences against physical integrity characterized as domestic violence
Case No                                   : 97/krime.S/2016/TDO
Composition of judges             : Single
Judge                                       : João Ribeiro
Public Prosecutor                    : Ricardo Leite Godinho
Public Defender                       : Afonso Gomes Fatima 
Type of decision                      : Sentenced to 1 year in prison, suspended for 2 years.


On 4 May 2016 the Oecusse District Court read out its decision in a case of simple offences against physical integrity involving the defendant JPR who allegedly committed the crime against his son (DdR) in Oecusse District.


The Public Prosecutor alleged that on 10 January 2016 at approximately 7pm, the defendant punched the victim once on his right arm and once on the right side of his head, slapped the victim once on his right cheek and left cheek, and choked the victim when he tried to flee. The defendant punched the victim because he suspected that the victim had lied to the defendant by saying that his parents in law would expel them from the house and tell them to go and live somewhere else. These actions caused the victim to lose consciousness and fall to the ground and suffer pain to his right arm, head and neck.


The Public Prosecutor charged the defendant for violating Article 145 of the Penal Code regarding simple offences against physical integrity, as well as Articles 2, 3 and 35 (b) of the Law Against Domestic Violence.


During the trial, the defendant admitted some of the facts in that he did slap the victim twice, however on his shoulder and right cheek. In relation to the alleged punches to the head and arm and choking, the defendant denied these allegations. The defendant also said that previously he committed a crime against his wife in 2013 and was fined $30. Meanwhile, the victim corroborated the facts set out in the indictment of the Prosecutor.


The witness MV, who is the wife of the defendant, chose to remain silent because the defendant is her husband and the victim is her oldest son.


In his final recommendations the Public Prosecutor requested for the court to impose a punishment of 6 months in prison, suspended for 1 year, because the defendant was guilty of committing the crime against the victim, even though the defendant only admitted some of the facts.


Meanwhile, the Public Defender requested for the court to impose a fair and balanced penalty because the defendant cooperated with the court, admitted that previously he had committed another crime against his wife, and was appearing before the court for the second time. In addition, the defendant also testified that they have 5 children including the victim and the defendant is the breadwinner of the family. 


After evaluating all of the facts, the court concluded this case and sentenced the defendant to 1 year in prison, suspended for 2 years.


2.      Crime of simple offences against physical integrity characterized as domestic violence
 
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