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18 November 2014

Timor-Leste’s Justice Minister begins a program of meetings in Portugal with Ministers and Government Officials

ETLJB 18/11/2014 Government of East Timor Media Release Spokesperson 18 November, 2014 Díli, Timor-Leste - Timor-Leste’s Minister of Justice, H.E. Dionísio Babo Soares, has begun a series of meetings with Ministers and officials of the Government of Portugal in Lisbon. Yesterday Minister Soares met with his Portuguese counterpart H.E. Paula Teixeira da Cruz. The Minister is also to meet with the Prosecutor General of Portugal and provisionally, the Superior Council of Magistrates.

These meetings are focusing on the recent Resolution of the National Parliament of Timor-Leste which called on the Government to initiate a profound technical audit of the operation of the judicial system and to cease contracts with international actors working within the sector. A subsequent Resolution of the Council of Ministers regarding specific international actors required to leave Timor-Leste is also being discussed.

These two resolutions have understandably caused a great deal of concern within Portugal as nearly all of those impacted were Portuguese nationals.

In an extended interview with LUSA on the 5th of November Prime Minister H.E. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao
appealed for understanding noting that there was “no intention to cool relations with Portugal” and indicated
that extraordinary and persistent problems within the judicial area had required extraordinary and urgent
action.

Although expressing regret over the way events had unfolded, the Prime Minister of Portugal H.E. Pedro Passos Coelho has affirmed the friendship of Portugal and Timor-Leste and the quality of his relationship with both the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste and the President of the Republic.
Justice Minister Babo Soares

Timor-Leste’s Government Spokesperson Agio Pereira noted that “Timor-Leste welcomes this opportunity for the Minister of Justice to dialogue with Ministers and officials of the Government of Portugal, to shed more light on these recent events.” He recalled the “deep historical relationship and solidarity of the two nations and the shared desire of both to see a strong, fair and efficient justice system at work in Timor-
Leste.”ENDS

Agio Pereira +670 77045002 agio.pereira@cdm.gov.tl govtlmedia@gmail.com www.timor-leste.gov.tl 


14 November 2014

Timor-Leste's Petroleum Fund Balance questioned by Lao Hamutuk

ETLJB 12/11/2014 According to a report by Macauhub on 11/11/2014 (http://www.macauhub.com.mo/en/2014/11/11/timor-leste-oil-fund-worth-us16-6-billion-in-september/) referencing a statement from the East Timor Central Bankissued on 10/11/2014, the value of the East Timor Oil Fund increased by just US$177 million in the third quarter due to payments to the state budget.

The Macauhub report states that "[a]ccording to the statement issued in Dili, the value of the Oil Fund was US$16.6 billion at the end of September....[and that] [f]rom July to September the Fund recorded US$522.35 million of gross inflows in contributions and royalties, and outputs amounted to US$345.35 million, including US$340 million in the form of transfers to the state budget.

The Timor-Leste Oil Fund, which was created in August 2005, receives all the state’s revenues from oil exploration.

Revenues for the fund are then invested in financial assets abroad and the only cash outflows are for the state budget, which must be approved by the national parliament.

However, the East Timorese civil society organisation that, among other things, monitors the oil and petroleum funds, the Macauhub article contains a fundamental error. According to Lao Hamutuk, the value of the Petroleum Fund actuall decreased during the third quarter of 2014, from USD $16.634 billion at the beginning of the quarter to $16.584 billion at the end of September.

According to Lao Hamutuk, the $50 million drop was because the Fund incurred net losses in foreign exchange of $276 million during the quarter, leading to an overall loss in investments of $232 million. When added to the $340 million withdrawn from the Fund to finance state activities, the losses exceeded the income from oil and gas.

More information on the Fund's performance, including the latest quarterly report from the Central Bank of Timor-Leste is made available by Lao Hamutuk at http://www.laohamutuk.org/Oil/PetFund/05PFIndex.htm.


06 November 2014

East Timor Government Continues the Destruction of Constitutional Democracy

ETLJB 06/11/2014 The Government of East Timor is continuing the deconstruction of constitutional democracy by passing a resolution to deport foreign judicial officers. The resolution was passed on 31 October 2014 following the resolution of the East Timor National Parliament on 24 October 2014 to immediately terminate all existing contracts of international judicial officers including international advisers appointed to the Judiciary, the Public Prosecutor's Office, the Public Defenders Office and the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Both of the resolutions by the Government and the Parliament are ultra vires and unconstitutional. They are unlawful acts by the legislative and executive organs of the State and constitute blatant attacks on the fundamental democratic doctrines of the independence of the judiciary, the separation of powers, the Constitution and the rule of law.

According to a Press Release today (06 November 2014) by the country's leading law and justice monitoring civil society organisation, the Judicial System Monitoring Program,  the Government resolution revokes the visas of five judges, two prosecutors and an official from the Anti-Corruption Commission, giving them 48 hours’ notice to leave Timor-Leste.

JSMP states that "[t]his resolution illegally orders international judicial officers to leave Timor-Leste... [and] violates the principle of judicial independence which is fundamental to Timor-Leste’s democracy and is enshrined in our Constitution,” said JSMP Interim Director Casimiro dos Santos.

The resolution by the Parliament triggered a constitutional crisis since it was immediately answered by the President of the Court of Appeal last week who issued a directive stating that only the Superior Council of Judicial Magistrates could remove judges from their positions.

“This [government] resolution directly challenges the legal opinion of the President of the Court of Appeal, who is the highest judicial officer in Timor-Leste,” said JSMP Interim Director Casimiro dos Santos.

JSMP believes that the Government’s new resolution ordering the deportation of these judicial officers is not consistent with the laws of Timor-Leste. Under the Constitution and laws of Timor-Leste, judges can only be removed from office by the Superior Council of Magistrates and prosecutors by the Superior Council for the Public Prosecution. These are the proper mechanisms established by law to deal with the appointment, removal and discipline of judges and judicial officers.

JSMP also expressed concern that the Government’s resolution is outside the limits of its constitutional powers. and believes that this resolution, as well as the earlier resolutions of National Parliament and the Government, constitute an interference with the independence of the judiciary and threaten the principle of the separation of powers.

JSMP also remains concerned about the serious impact this act will have on the justice system in Timor-Leste. The Suai and Baucau district courts have ordered retrials for some cases heard by international judges.

“Removing judges, prosecutors and other court officials creates more work for our justice system, and at the same time takes away important resources,” says JSMP Interim Director Casimiro dos Santos.

The National Political Committee of FRETILIN has issued a statement calling on the Government not to exceed the limits on its powers and urging the President of the Republic to ensure the normal functioning of State institutions.

JSMP urged the National Parliament, the Government and the President of the Republic to immediately take appropriate action to restore judicial independence.

ETLJB respectully agrees with the opinions expressed by JSMP, the communique from the FRETILIN National Committee and the Chief Justice's intervention. The actions by the Parliament and the Government are more characteristic of an authoritarian dictatorship than of a democratic State. While they may be compelled by the political agenda of the V Constitutional Government of East Timor, they are juridically erroneous and preposterous. ETLJB condemns the resolutions by the National Parliament and the Government as outrageous violations of democratic principles

In another breathtaking intervention clearly intended to thwart the rule of law and scotch efforts by the prosecution authorities to bring Members of Parliament to accountability for accusations of violations of the law, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao is also reported by Tempo Semanal on 4 November to have written a  letter requesting the representatives of the people in Parliament to consider not waiving the immunity of members of his government who have been accused by the Public Prosecutor.

“Through this, with great respect, I ask your Excellency for the National Parliament to not waive the immunity of Government members until the end of their mandates pursuant to article 114 of the RDTL Constitution”, wrote Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao.

According to the Tempo Semanal report, the Prime Minister of the V Government wrote to the President of the National Parliament, Vicente Guterres, who is also facing charges by the Public Ministry. The letter was also sent to members of the Parliament’s chairmanship and the heads of every political group represented in Parliament on the 4th of November 2014.

The following extract from the letter was published by Tempo Semenal: “Considering the urgent nature of matters currently being followed up by members of my government. Considering that some members of my government have been prosecuted with penal charges regarding, alleged yet to be proven, acts performed during their official. Considering that if the National Parliament waives immunity of members of my government (as per article 111 RDTL Constitution) it will disturb the correct functioning and activities of the government, thus severely jeopardising the sustainability of the Government and the governance of the country. And, considering that national interest can only be safeguarded with a governing stability and the execution of all matters currently being followed up by the members of my government”.

ETLJB also condemns this intervention by the executive in the legislature that constitutes an offensive onslaught against the Constitution, judicial independence, the separation of powers and the rule of law in East Timor.

Written by Warren L. Wright BA LLB


See also
FRETILIN Communique regarding the East Timor Parliamentary Resolution to Dismiss Foreign Jurists
Court of Appeal defies East Timor's Parliament resolution to terminate all foreign judges
East Timor's Parliament resolves to terminate all foreign judges
Parliament and Government must respect the independence of the judiciary and separation of powers
Judiciary under attack in East Timor
East Timor Government and Parliament fired Judiciary with missile resolution

East Timor's Prime Minister requests Parliament not to waive immunity for MP's accused by the Public Prosecutor of violations of the law

Xanana Gusmao
ETLJB 06/11/2014 From Written by  Tempo Semanal 04 Novembru 2014 19:14 Breaking News Dili, Tempo Semanal – Two days before the National Parliament convened the closed door plenary session that resulted in the PN resolution numbers 11/2014 and 12/2014 on the 24th October 2014, the Prime Minister of the V Constitutional Government wrote a letter requesting the representatives of the people in Parliament to consider not waiving the immunity of members of his government who have been accused by the Public Ministry.

“Through this, with great respect, I ask your Excellency for the National Parliament to not waive the immunity of Government members until the end of their mandates pursuant to article 114 of the RDTL Constitution”, wrote Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao.

The Prime Minister of the V Government wrote to the President of the National Parliament, Vicente Guterres, who is also facing charges by the Public Ministry.

 The letter from the Prime Minister was received in the office of the President of Parliament on the 22th October 2014, at 17:30 TL time, and was sent to members of the Parliament’s chairmanship and heads of every political group represented in Parliament on the 4th of November 2014.

In his letter to the President of the National Parliament, the Head of Government gave various justifications for the National Parliament to not waive of immunity for the current members of his Government.

“Considering the urgent nature of matters currently being followed up by members of my government. Considering that some members of my government have been prosecuted with penal charges regarding, alleged yet to be proven, acts performed during their official. Considering that if the National Parliament waives immunity of members of my government (as per article 111 RDTL Constitution) it will disturb the correct functioning and activities of the government, thus severely jeopardizing the sustainability of the Government and the governance of the country. And, considering that national Interest can only be safeguarded with a governing stability and the execution of all matters currently being followed up by the members of my government”. This is how PM Xanana argued his request in the letter of 22/10/2014.

In ending, the Prime Minister respectfully hopes “… that this request deserves a positive response from Your Excellency, I sign with highest consideration”. Source: http://www.temposemanal.com/nasional/pm-xanana-asked-the-national-parliament-not-to-waive-the-immunity-of-members-of-the-v-government 

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