21 October 2009

UN Report condemns Gusmao Government's attacks on judicial independence in Timor-Leste



Extract from The Justice System of Timor-Leste: An Independent Comprehensive Needs Assessment The current situation in Timor-Leste as it relates to judicial independence is problematic. Although the country’s judges have consistently asserted their independence in the cases that have come before them, the institutional independence of the judiciary is still not fully recognized by other state actors.

This fact has been made evident most recently in the case of Maternus Bere, who is under indictment for crimes against humanity and other serious offenses allegedly committed in Suai in 1999. Bere appeared before a Timorese judge and ordered held in Becora Prison as a pre-trial detainee. Despite the fact that no further judicial proceeding was held and no additional judicial order issued, Bere was released at the direction of a high official in the Timorese government. This disregard for a judicial order and direct interference with the judicial system was a grave violation of judicial independence and the separation of powers.

It is the responsibility of all those who serve in the four organs of sovereignty, including those at the highest levels, to respect judicial independence and the separation of powers. It is imperative that a commitment be made to promote a culture of respect for the rule of law and to avoid those actions that would jeopardize it.The current situation in Timor-Leste as it relates to judicial independence is problematic. Although the country’s judges have consistently asserted their independence in the cases that have come before them, the institutional independence of the judiciary is still not fully recognized by other state actors.

This fact has been made evident most recently in the case of Maternus Bere, who is under indictment for crimes against humanity and other serious offenses allegedly committed in Suai in 1999. Bere appeared before a Timorese judge and ordered held in Becora Prison as a pre-trial detainee. Despite the fact that no further judicial proceeding was held and no additional judicial order issued, Bere was released at the direction of a high official in the Timorese government. This disregard for a judicial order and direct interference with the judicial system was a grave violation of judicial independence and the separation of powers.

It is the responsibility of all those who serve in the four organs of sovereignty, including those at the highest levels, to respect judicial independence and the separation of powers. It is imperative that a commitment be made to promote a culture of respect for the rule of law and to avoid those actions that would jeopardize it. Read the full Executive Summary

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