31 August 2016

East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin: Remains of hundreds of East Timorese murdered by Indonesian military buried in mass grave

A republication of an old post to remind us why ANTI's work is so important (see post below) East Timor Law and Justice Bulletin: Remains of hundreds of East Timorese murdered by Indonesian military buried in mass grave 

Commemorating East Timor Referendum Day 30 August 1999 - 2016 and the International Day of the Enforced Disappearances

ETLJB 31 August 2016

Source: A-N-T-I Aliansi Nasionál Timor-Leste ba Tribunál Internasionál
Sekretariadu; Asosiasaun Hak, kontaktu;lanarradel@gmail.commoniz@jsmp.minihub.orgatino@laohamutuk.org,

Press Release

Commemorating Referendum Day 30 August 1999 - 2016 and the International Day of the Enforced Disappearances

“We remember the past to continue to fight against impunity in Timor-Leste and in the world.”

The Timor-Leste people commemorate this day - 30 August - as the 17th anniversary of Referendum Day (1999-2016). This historic day led to our independence, which came with a lot of suffering over time, due to serious crimes systematically committed by the Indonesian military. After achieving independence, the people of Timor-Leste chose to live within a democratic state based on rule of law.  Unfortunately, once independent, the State of Timor-Leste started to focus more on physical development and there has been as yet no credible justice for serious crimes committed against the Timorese people. The Timor-Leste leaders has been no political will of the justice issue for serious crime problems in past as foundation of right and democratic state. 

Furthermore, the 30th of August is also International Day of Enforced Disappearances; we commemorate with the family members who have been disappeared and who still live in great suffering. Many families continue to scream and demand the return of their family members who were disappeared during the conflict period. Survivors, human rights activists and international people committed to humanity continue to wait and demand accountability for the criminals, and also justice for all survivors including victims and the families of victims.

Until now, after a decade, impunity still exists with its clear consequences. The reality shows that the Indonesian government has protected these criminals from accountability for the crimes they committed in Timor-Leste.  Worse still, the Indonesian Government has given opportunities to occupy important positions to the perpetrators of serious crimes actors. This shows that impunity is flourishing in the Indonesian government, which in turn gives space for the crimes that happened in the past to be repeated.

Through both of these important commemorations, ANTI wants to appeal for and urge for:

  1. Both governments (Timor-Leste and Indonesia) with society to establish a Commission for the Disappeared to work on the issue of forced disappearances during Indonesia’s illegal occupation. In this way, we can reintegrate the persons who were forcefully removed from their families by the Indonesia military. 

  1. The United Nations to place on their agenda and discuss the report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry and Indonesia’s KKP-HAM, especially the recommendation for an international tribunal for serious crimes cases in Timor-Leste. To date, there has been no fair domestic mechanism to guarantee justice for the people of Timor-Leste, the international community, or especially the victims’ families. 

  1. The UN Security Council to maintain the decision against impunity based on accusations of Special Panel for Serious Crimes in 2003, and to look for an effective mechanism to ensure credible accountability for the actors of these crimes, particular of the accused ex General Wiranto;

  1. The state of Timor-Leste to sign and ratify the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances so that we can begin to process the cases of the disappeared, and to ensure we do not repeat the same thing in the future.

  1. The Indonesian Government to respect the principles of human rights, to not close the way for justice for serious crime cases, especially to resolve all cases of enforced disappeared persons in Timor-Leste, so that we can strengthen bilateral relation between the nations of Timor-Leste and Indonesia in the future, based on universal human rights values.

  1. PDHJ and Indonesia’s Komnas-HAM to work seriously on the agreement the two organizations have established that focuses especially on cases of disappeared persons, so that we can look for these persons disappeared during the Indonesian military occupation.  

  1. The Timor-Leste Government, especially the Ministry of Defense and Security to use the recommendations from Chega! as a reference point for the commitment plans of both security forces. In this way, we will not repeat the crimes committed by the Indonesian military during the occupation.

Dili, 29 August 2016

Sisto dos Santos
Coordinator of ANTI Board

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
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