30 June 2009
PNTL continues finding missing weapons Timor Post 29 June 2009 - The Timorese National Police (PNTL) continues finding weapons that went missing during the 2006 political crisis.
UNICEF supports national youth consultation Timor Post 29 June 2009 - The State Secretary for Youth and Sport with the support of UNICEF will hold a national consultation on endorsing a decree law for the establishment of a proposed youth parliament.
Police needs time to improve intelligence work: de Jesus Timor Post 29 June 2009 - Deputy Police Commander Sub Commissary Afonso de Jesus said the Timorese Police intelligence was still weak and that it was necessary to improve it but would take time.
Immigration police keeps watching immigrants Timor Post 29 June 2009 - Deputy Police Commander Sub Commissary Afonso de Jesus said the the Immigration Department had produced its own law to control gaps used by foreign nationals to illegally enter the country.
Probe could reduce corruption Suara Timor Lorosae 29 June 2009 - Deputy Prime Minister for Management Administration Mario Viegas Carrascalao said combating corruption was not easy work because probes into corruption were needed for the ministries thatare suspected of being involved in corruption.
Fretilin ready to form coalition with other political parties: Alkatiri Suara Timor Lorosae 29 June 2009 - Fretilin Secretary General Mari Alkatiri said his party was ready to form a coalition with other political parties if his party did not overwhelmingly win the next general election.
Catholic Church against free sex in Timor-Leste Timor Post 29 June 2009 - Dili Diocese Bishop Monsignor Alberto Ricardo da Silva said the Catholic Church in Timor-Leste was strongly against free sex as it contradicted with the Almighty God's doctrine.
The stance was disclosed Monday by Udayana Military Commander Major Gen. Hotmangaradja Pandjaitan in Kupang, after he led a tour of duty ceremony at the Wirasakti Military Command from Col. Winston Simanjuntak to Col. Dodi Usodo Hargo.
Simanjuntak said the regency borders directly with Oecusi district in East Timor and is important to efforts to stave off threats and disturbances from foreign parties.
The public protest, including that from the local Catholic Church, over the planned establishment of the two Army units, is on the grounds East Timor is not a threat to the country. Critics have said the people instead need more economic development such as in health care and education and not military facilities.
The regency administration and legislature have also expressed reservations over the proposed construction of the military units. The legislature even voiced its objection in a plenary session early June.
In response to this, Simanjuntak said the establishment of the new military facilities was part of the central government's program in the defence sector and was for the sake of the nation and state.
"The presence of the new units will provide immediate benefits for the people and spur economic growth in the area."
He added the TNI presence would benefit residents, especially in the event of natural disasters.
"It would not be easy for foreign parties to claim part of the country given the TNI's presence, because it will protect every inch of soil."
The units will be built on 20 hectares (ha) in the districts of Biboki Aneu, Biboki Fetleu and Insana.
"Construction would likely be completed in 2019," he said.
Separately, the Biboki traditional community forum, made up of 154 traditional leaders in North Timor Tengah, wrote a letter asking the TNI to stop their activities on a 60-ha area donated by local Hendrikus Makun, on behalf of the leaders.
The protest, according to the leaders, is because the area is part of a protected forest and a clean water source, a grazing area for livestock and their ancestors' burial grounds. The area remains important to lives of the Biboki traditional community.
29 June 2009
The government says it is taking action to eliminate corruption and on Monday approved plans to establish an anti-corruption commission.
But the leader of the National Unity Party, Fernanda Borges, has told Radio Australia's Asia Pacific program the new commission's first task should be an investigation into the Prime Minister's office.
An investigation by Radio Australia found Mr Gusmao signed off on a deal with Prima Food last year for it to supply rice worth $US3.5 million.
Zenilda Gusmao, the Prime Minister's daughter, is listed as a Prima Food shareholder in East Timor's 2008 business registry.
On Saturday, the East Timor government released a statement.
"While we welcome the interest of the ABC in reporting on Timor-Leste, we would ask for better due diligence in ensuring the facts are correct before misinformation is widely disseminated," it said.
"There are several inaccuracies in the reporting, especially when referencing the laws of the constitution, which seem to be the basis of the corruption allegations."
The statement was issued by Agio Pereira, the Secretary of State for the Council of Ministers and official spokesman for the Fourth Constitutional Government.
It also declares that Mr Gusmao has not broken any laws under the constitution that address guidelines for business interests.
But Ms Borges says the government has chosen a convenient interpretation of the constitution.
"I'm very unhappy the government interpreted in that fashion because that shows denial of responsibility for acts which members of the government have the responsibility to ensure that anything it does is done with transparency, and is not in the interest of any family member," she said.
"And the Prime Minister should be very, very aware himself that he was awarding very healthy contracts to his own daughter who is a shareholder of this company," she said.
"That is highly unacceptable, highly irregular in any democracy."
But one watchdog organisation has voiced concerns about the new corruption commission's ability to function effectively.
The non-government organisation La'o Hamutuk, which has been working in East Timor since before the country gained independence, has reiterated concerns that the commission would make East Timor more vulnerable to corruption.
East Timor's Deputy Prime Minister, Mario Carrascalao, has told Radio Australia there will be inquiries into the rice contract scandal, while the Fretilin Opposition says it will be calling for answers when parliament sits on Tuesday.
Speaking to journalists in Dili today, FRETILIN MP and former Prime Minister Estanislau da Silva said that this law would be a good start to combating the official corruption that has become entrenched in Timorese society over the last two years but that it would be the “silver bullet” many speak of, urging that continued vigilance from the people, the media and the opposition will be the only way for the evil of corruption to be eradicated from Timor-Leste’s national life.
“FRETILIN is happy that the de facto government’s own MPs agreed with FRETILIN and its allies like KOTA and PPT, as well as the non-allied opposition parties like PUN to pass a law that is the result of multi-party consensus and reject the flawed and unconstitutional draft proposed law from the Government. It shows that it is not just FRETILIN that is concerned with the growing corruption in the current government.
Like us, they know they will be called to account by the people at the ballot box, unlike the government who will enrich themselves and their cronies through corruption, collusion and nepotism and refuse to be held accountable to anyone, even the parliament,” da Silva said.
“It comes at a very crucial time in our countries development. It comes at a time when allegations have been made of official corruption at the highest levels, including the level of the Prime Minister. He will be held to account in the coming weeks. His sense of impunity and unaccountability will be brought to check with the inception of this commission, whose in idependence and effectiveness has now been maximized by the law that was approved,” da Silva added.
Da Silva warned however, that the lack of political will that has plagued the Gusmao AMP government to effectively tackle corruption despite the rhetoric must change however if there is to be an effective and successful anti-corruption system in place.
“What we need are the integrity systems in place, that people respect them and that the institutions like the commission, the prosecutorial offices and the courts are well resourced. The prosecutorial and judicial arms will also have to be strengthened. We now have the money to do that through appropriate budget increases. We have to do it, or nothing will happen in the fight against corruption,” he said in closing.
For further information please contact Jose Teixeira MP on +670 728 7080
Image added by ETLJB
This contract was signed by the Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao on behalf of the Government of Timor-Leste and by Americo "Pualaka" Lopes, Executive Director of Pualaka Petroleo with a 30% share of the company.
Mr. Lopes is the husband of Minister of Justice, Lucia Lobato, a leading member of the PSD party, and a key political ally of the Prime Minister in the AMP Coalition Government. They share a personal connection as Prime Minister Xanana is the godfather of Lopes and Lobato's son.
According to the below invoice dated 3 April 2009, from Mr. Lopes to the Director of Procurement in the Ministry of Finance, Pualaka Petroleo billed the Government $1,473,360.00 for 1,754,000 litres of diesel fuel provided during the contract period.
It is not yet clear what the law states on this matter, however there are questions raised by these documents.
According to the Worldbank's website regarding its Planning and Financial Management Capacity Building Programme (PFMCBP) in the Ministry of Finance it states that
"The Planning and Financial Management Capacity Building Program Project seeks a sustainable strengthened planning, that includes budgeting, public expenditure management, and revenue administration for growth and poverty reduction, with emphasis on efficiency, effectiveness, accountability, integrity, and service culture, and, transparency."
This project costs $37 million over 5 years. Is it improving accountability, integrity, and transparency?
Posted By TEMPO SEMANAL to TEMPO SEMANAL on 6/27/2009 11:23:00 PM http://temposemanaltimor.blogspot.com/2009/06/internet-edition-exclusif-prime.html
Image: Prime MInister Xanana Gusmao East Timor Justice Minister Lucia Lobato
28 June 2009
Darwin lawyer, Jon Tippett, QC, is the legal adviser for dual Australian/East Timorese citizen, Angie Pires, who stands accused of involvement in the 2008 shooting of President Ramos-Horta.
His legal team has not had access to the 5000-document prosecution brief to prepare her defence, and proceedings have been muddied by reports that Mr Ramos Horta may offer amnesty to some of those allegedly involved in the attack.
East Timor's dysfuntional judicial system and a backlog of 4000 cases meant Pires and ordinary Timorese were not getting access to justice, Mr Tippett is reported to have said.
"The problem is that Australian people are pouring tens of millions into East Timor each year and into the UN effort and the legal system is just hopeless," he said.
"I think our Government is entitled to say to the East Timorese Government . . . we want some bang for our buck, we want to see an open, accountable legal system that is free of corruption and free of the impediments that it contains."
It is important for all of us not to see these issues from the point of personal or political interest. We need to consider the long-term impact on the nation if issues such as truth, justice and reconciliation are not addressed in a constructive manner.
Leaders need to listen to what the people are saying, listen to the vulnerable victims of the conflict who don’t have a strong voice, and respond with concrete measures to address their concerns surrounding justice, reconciliation and truth. People believe that discussing the past will lead to violence. It is possible to create mechanisms to deal with unresolved issues from the past conflict that will not lead to violence. For this to happen, political parties need to commit to honest, peaceful dialogue and not manipulate issues related to the past conflict for political gain.
The crisis that occurred in 2006 should represent a lesson to East Timor as a nation. The 2006 crisis was caused by a number of factors, including unresolved issues from the past and our failure to create a sense of national unity and strong democratic institutions to guard against conflict. Divisions remain within our society based on people and community’s roles during the internal conflict and the Indonesian occupation. It is better that these social divisions are openly discussed so we can learn how to address them and avoid future conflict.
I wish to quickly touch on four issues that have been at the heart of our discussions in the course of this dialogue.
First, we must part from the premise that without truth there cannot be justice or reconciliation. To achieve this, two significant truth-seeking exercises in the form of the CAVR and the CVA was promoted and implemented by the State very early in our independence. More needs to be done as truth needs to be used to achieve concrete results such as:
i) education programs in our schools – using the CAVR and CVA report findings to teach about history and human rights in Timor-Leste
ii) reparations for victims
iii) criminal prosecutions, and
iv) reconciliation efforts at different levels of society.
Reconciliation is a process, it is not something which can happen overnight. It will not work if we as leaders tell the people to reconcile. There have to be dedicated efforts to facilitate reconciliation through community-based programs and open dialogue between opposing political sides. The 2000 CNRT congress which was held to discuss, among other issues the idea of a truth and reconciliation commission, defined reconciliation as:
“A process, which acknowledges past mistakes including regret and forgiveness as a product of a path inherent in the process of achieving justice; it is also a process which must involve the People of Timor-Leste so that the cycle of accusation, denial and counter-accusation can be broken. This process must not be seen only as a conflict resolution or mere political tool which aims at pacification and reintegration of individuals or groups in the context of their acceptance of independence and sovereignty of Timor-Leste but, above all, must be seen as a process where truth must be the outcome.”
Reconciliation depends upon both sides of the conflict. However, the person or group at fault must admit this fault and demonstrate remorse for what they have done. This makes it more likely that victims will be willing to personally forgive perpetrators and move forward.
The issue of justice is important because only through justice can we stop impunity in East Timor. Victims see that perpetrators have not been held responsible for their crimes and this makes them lose confidence in the state and its legal system. Perpetrators feel that they are untouchable and people don’t fear the law, leading to violent crime, abuse of power and corruption.
Do we want to build a nation based on the rule of law or on political divisions? Justice should not be a political issue because it is based on the law and all should be equally subject to the law – whether they were pro-autonomy or pro-independence. This is what it says in the constitution. If we decide to seriously address the question of justice for crimes against humanity and war crimes, this will demonstrate the Timorese state’s condemnation of past rights abuses and indicate a commitment to creating a just and peaceful state.
It is not a question of taking everyone who committed a crime during the 25 year conflict to court, it is a question of bringing those responsible for the most serious crimes to trial. Those people who committed crimes against humanity or war crimes. These are international crimes that we should prosecute due to our international obligations and our need to end impunity in this country.
I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight here that the international community, in particular the United Nations has full responsibility under international law to prosecuting crimes against humanity that occurred in East Timor. It should not be left to the East Timor State to bear this burden alone as this international commitment is important for humanity. It is for this reason that my party, PUN has been calling for an international tribunal to prosecute these crimes.
We all heard from presenters and participants that pursuing justice through criminal trials is difficult. However, this does not mean that we should not try. Citizens’ rights to justice are enshrined in our Constitution. If we fail to deliver on these basic fundamentals then we have essentially failed to carry out our mandate successfully for the people. Worst still, as the President of the Republic Dr. Jose Ramos Horta recently stated in Jornal Nacional Diario (24 April 2009) “Weak Justice Can Destroy Peace: “when the justice system is weak in this nation, then peace will be destroyed, because people who are victims lose trust in justice, then people will take justice into their own hands and destroy peace. Justice must be 100% independent, 100% imparcial, 100% competent, in order to win the trust of the people.” [“Justisa Fraku Bele Sobu Dame”: "sistema justisa kuandu fraku iha nasaun ne’e maka dame mos sei naksobu, tamba ema ne’ebe vitima la iha ona konfiansa ba justisa, maka ema ne’e sei halo justisa ho nia liman rasik, i sobu dame. Justisa tenki 100% independente, 100% imparsial, 100% kompetenti, para bele ajuda manan konfiansa povu nian".]
Justice can occur via domestic or international court. What is important is that crimes of the past and their perpetrators are dealt with via a transparent and credible legal process. This will cost money, it will require significant technical support but we can find a way if there is the political will.
Justice and Reconciliation alone will not be sufficient to address the grave socioeconomic problems that the most vulnerable victims confront. We must provide a safety net that will help victims quickly in the form of individual and community reparations.
Reparations are the state’s legal and moral responsibility to the victims of the past conflict. The state has recognised this responsibility for victims of the 2006 conflict and should do so for 1975 – 1999 victims.
Although it is possible to say ‘we are all victims’ the reparations program proposed by the CAVR report is aimed at the most vulnerable victims who continue to suffer from negative effects of the torture, sexual abuse or other violation that they experienced. Reparations are necessary to restore the dignity of these victims and help them overcome their vulnerability.
Memorialisation is a means of providing recognition for victims and creating a society which understands the negative impact of using violence to resolve conflict.
Before concluding, I wish to say that despite finding this Dialogue a very productive and informative experience, it is important not to stop here. We need to view this event not as producing a final consensus but the start of a constructive national dialogue on how to deal with our past. Dealing with negative impact of East Timor’s long conflict is a complex matter that requires different responses such as victim reparations, human rights education, prosecutions, further truth seeking activities and institutional reform. East Timor needs to commit itself to a long term effort to promote truth, justice and reconciliation in relations to the past conflict.
We need to take the first step forward by debating the CAVR and CVA reports in parliament and then opening dialogue with communities to determine which recommendations should be implemented and how.
We need to show progress in these areas to address the frustration and anger of victims and their families about the state’s lack of attention to their plight.
East Timor's prosecutors allege she is the puppet master behind the near-fatal attack on President Jose Ramos Horta in 2008.
In July, the Timorese-born Australian will stand trial in Dili on 23 charges, including that she conspired with her lover, Alfredo Reinado, to kill Mr Ramos Horta.
But her Darwin lawyer, Jon Tippett, QC, says East Timor's justice system is a "bloody hopeless" mess, riddled with corruption and incapable of providing her - or anyone else - a fair trial.
His legal team has not had access to the 5000-document prosecution brief to prepare her defence, and proceedings have been muddied by reports that Mr Ramos Horta may offer amnesty to some of those allegedly involved in the attack.
Whether this will include Pires is unclear, but she has ruled out an appeal for clemency. "If I was to do a cheap deal, it would be letting people down - I want to let justice take its course, but it has to be in a court that is free from political influence," she said.
She has appealed to the international legal monitors and the United Nations to have a strong presence at her trial.
Mr Tippett, who is receiving funding from legal aid, said he had only been able to review about 150 of the 700-plus pages of forensic evidence held by Australian Federal Police.
East Timor's sluggish judicial system and a backlog of 4000 cases meant Pires and ordinary Timorese were not getting access to justice, he said. "The problem is that Australian people are pouring tens of millions into East Timor each year and into the UN effort and the legal system is just hopeless," he said.
"I think our Government is entitled to say to the East Timorese Government . . . we want some bang for our buck, we want to see an open, accountable legal system that is free of corruption and free of the impediments that it contains."
Sitting in a friend's home in Dili, Pires, 42, looked exhausted. She said she entered a "very dark place" after the shooting.
After Reinado's death, she miscarried a boy at five months and was unable to travel to Darwin for proper medical attention because authorities had seized her passport.
Pires and 27 men face charges over the attack, but there has been no direction as to how the unwieldy trial might be conducted.
She denies charges that she influenced Reinado to lead the early morning attacks on Mr Ramos Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
Mr Ramos Horta suffered serious gunshot wounds and was evacuated to Darwin.
Reinado was the leader of a band of soldiers sacked from the military after complaining of regional discrimination in promotions, sparking the 2006 Timor crisis when the country descended into violent chaos.
Ms Pires said the Government was looking for someone to blame for its failure to properly lead the Timorese people after the 2006 crisis.
"They have chosen me because I loved one man with all my heart who opposed them."
The AFP had not responded to Mr Tippett's claim before deadline.
27 June 2009
The story claims that Gusmao's daughter is a shareholder in Prima Foods, a company that received a $3.5 million food-importing contract signed off on by the PM.
In what is regarded as Asia's poorest country per capita, oil revenues excluded, food security remains a pressing issue for many Timorese in rural areas. The annual "hunger season" in the early months of the year, when there is little food left from previous harvests and new crops are still not available, means that the country has had to import food to meet basic needs.
During the 1975-1999 Indonesian occupation, an estimated 200,000 Timorese died from conflict-related factors, including a 1977-79 famine that in all likelihood claimed around half of those fatalities. In that period, Jakarta forced people off land and into camps, without sufficient humanitarian access, while the Indonesian Army hunted down Timorese resistance fighters, led by Gusmao.
The food contract in question was aimed at staving off the annual hunger season, and came at a time of spiraling global food prices, which added to the cost and purchase-order price.
Gusmao is revered as the leader of Timor's independence struggle, spending much of the 1990s in a Jakarta prison. East Timor was run by the U.N. between 1999 and 2002, after a plebiscite saw Timorese vote in favor of independence from Indonesia, whose occupation was never recognized under international law. East Timor became a sovereign state in 2002, and Gusmao was elected its first president. In 2007, after stepping down from that post, he led a multiparty coalition to electoral victory over FRETILIN, which was the dominant party from 2002-7.
FRETILIN MP Jose Teixeira told World Politics Review today that "the prime minister has a lot to answer for," adding that his party will consider "holding a parliamentary inquiry into this."
The case comes just days before the Timorese parliament is to discuss the establishment of the anti-corruption commission, a Gusmao brainchild first mooted on the campaign trail in 2007, and formally set in motion in May 2008.
Opposition MP Fernanda Borges is leader of the National Unity Party (PUN). She told WPR that "this case is both ironic and unfortunate, given that the rime minister campaigned on curbing corruption."
Image added by ETLJB: Fretilin Member of Parliament, Jose Texeira
The resources found on the surface and below the land are national economic resources which should be utilized justly and evenly in the interests of the sustainability of the nation and state of East Timor. With this in mind, article 141 of the Constitution of RDTL clearly regulates ownership, use and development of land as a factor in national economic production.
The majority of East Timorese people are still agrarian so the land and the water located within the earth are central to their livelihoods and must be utilized to optimal effect for the welfare and prosperity of the people.
Land legislation in RDTL to date is not definitive as a consequence of legal dualism namely the law of RDTL and the law of Indonesia, in terms of recognition of ownership.
Act No 1/2003 Law on Immovable Properties was designed to provide protection in terms of land use and ownership issues in East Timor, however this has not been the case because the law is too general and unspecific in details regarding land ownership and control.
This legislation actually has prospects for legal application; as stated in article 19, however Indonesian law, the Agrarian Act and the implementing regulations, are only used as subsidiary or additional provisions. In this context the agrarian legislation applied as subsidiary law only serves to fill a legal vacuum.
For this reason RDTL Act No 1/2003 basically functions as a national law characterized by lex spesialis legi generali which is applied as the legal basis for the resolution of land cases. However, as the main source of authority this legislation does not regulate in detail the procedures and requirements for land ownership etc. This includes land owned by individuals, private organizations and the Government.
This national legislation of East Timor Act No 1/2003 has raised social problems in its application, because it does not guarantee the ownership and control of land rights. This has occurred in two land conflict cases during the governance of RDTL. The two cases referred two are those of Ir. (Engineer) Mario Viegas Carrascalao and the acquisition and control of community land by the government (F-FDTL ) in Metinaro Dili District.
In the land conflict involving Ir. Mario Carrascalao the government evicted Mario from his house because according to the government the land and the house were government owned. Ir. Mario Carasscalao had evidence of ownership of the land. With the title issued by the Indonesian government, the government did not recognise that Ir.Mario owned the land in question and did not provide him with any compensation.
In the case in Metinaro the government acquired and took control of community land to establish the headquarters of F-FDTL without providing adequate compensation to the community as the landowners.
At present, other problems relating to land in RDTL are the tendency for the government to disregard land owned by individuals and private organizations based on land titles issues by the Indonesian government. During the Indonesian occupation, the total recorded number of titles issued is more than 44,000 whilst during the Portuguese period around 2700 land ownership titles were issued to legitimate the ownership of land rights.
To date these problems have not resulted in any legal certainly regarding land ownership in East Timor under the two types of colonial law.
It would appear that government has taken arbitrary action to acquire community owned land and actions which disregard the land rights titles issues by the Indonesian government. For these reasons the immediate regulation of land ownership and control of land by individuals, private organizations and the government through legislation is required.
We hope that this land legislation can be established and enacted as soon as possible to provide legal certainty and guarantee legal protection with regard to the ownership and control of land rights. Read the full report...
A report from Reuters states that "[the] law will likely hand over ownership for 166 million acres (67.4 million hectares) in the Amazon, an area bigger than France, to individuals who can prove they have been occupying the public land since December 2004.
The distribution of plots will be based on good faith affidavits by claimants that they occupy an area. Authorities will not carry out on-site checks of such claims on plots under 990 acres."
The President vetoed articles of the bill that would have allowed companies to take over land.
For the last 30 years, settlers, farmers and speculators in the Brazilian rainforest have occupied and sold state land they did not own, fueling the destruction of about a fifth of the world's largest rain forest. Land titles are often nonexistent or fake.
Reuters reports that "the law will benefit impoverished peasants who were encouraged to settle the Amazon during the 1964-1985 military dictatorship but were never provided with legal support, public security or financial aid.
The new land owners, who will have to pay taxes and follow environmental regulations, are expected to help environmental regulators crack down on squatting and deforestation, as well as fund better enforcement efforts in remote Amazon areas."
However, the draft land law in East Timor does not permit any acquisition of title to occupied state land. Draft Article 7 provides, amongst other things, that: (Properties located within the public domain of the State) 1. The ownership right shall not be granted to an ownership claimant of a property located within the State's areas of public domain.
This exclusion would apply to traditional communities occupying what is formally state land but in respect of which customary land tenure systems have existed since time immemorial. The denial of customary land tenure systems status as legitimate land rights under the law raises serious questions for those communities that occupy them. There is some limited provision in the draft land law relating to communal lands but ultimately, it is the government that, under the present draft Article 26, will have the final say on who may use communal lands in East Timor with only an obligation to consult with the relevant traditional community.
Furthermore, traditional communities in East Timor do not have the status of a legal entity for the purposes of the draft land law. Article 19 provides that only national legal entities may hold the right of ownership. There is no law that confers corporate status on traditional communities and so it is impossible for them to hold their lands.
The future of customary land tenure systems is not assured by the new draft land law which reflects a policy of denial of the legitimacy of those land systems.
The failure of national legal systems to adequately recognise and protect the land rights of indigenous communities has had devastating impacts in other parts of the world. Under the dictatorship of Soeharto in Indonesia, the military was deployed to depopulate indigenous peoples' land to permit the exploitation of forest resources by external parties such as the holders of forestry or mining concessions or oil palm plantation developments. In many cases, these indigenous communities and their age-old land tenure systems were annihilated. To East Timor's southeast lies its other gigantic neighbour - Australia - whose indigenous people suffered one of the worst genocides in human history as land was commoditised and granted by the Crown to the invading Europeans. These lessons have not been heeded in East Timor. There is no effective advocacy on behalf of traditional communities.
Whether the government has the fortitude to engage with traditional communities in East Timor in the public consultation process it is currently undertaking remains to be seen. It will be a difficult task explaining to the traditional communities that the new law does not recognise their customary land rights as juridical rights and that this new law will entrench the dominance of the state in the decision-making process about the exploitation of traditional lands in East Timor.
Warren L. Wright
Sydney 27 June 2009
Law of establishing national petroleum authority does not breach constitution Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 25 June 2009 - The Court of Appeal has made a decision that the decree law of establishing national authority of petroleum does not breach the Timorese Constitution.
Allegation of beating residents in Maliana is unclear: Pinto Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 25 June 2009 - State Secretary for Defence Julio Thomas Pinto said the recent allegation case of beating up residents in Maliana involving Timorece Defence Force soldiers was unclear and so the Government had set up a team to investigate it.
Halting 974 – 1999 rights violation cases breaches constitution Timor Post 25 June 2009 - The Judicial System Monitoring program (JMP) has declared that President Jose Ramos Horta's plan to halt prosecution of serious crimes committed in the 1974 -1999 war is against the Timorese Constitution.
PNTL implements discipline based on law Timor Post 25 June 2009 - Timorese Deputy Police Commander Sub Commissary Afonso de Jesus said the Timorese National Police was slowly implementing discipline based on the police force's internal law.
Artwork by Arte Moris artist.
Constitution weakens task of PDHJ Suara Timor Lorosae 26 June 2009 - Timorese Human Rights and Justice Ombudsmen (PDHJ) Sebastiao Ximenes said the PDHJ had not conducted its task optimally because they were challenged by the constitution.
ISF and UN Police to strengthen security in the border Suara Timor Lorosae 26 June 2009 - The Government has planned to coordinate with the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) and the UN Police to involve them in the border to better provide security in that area, says State Secretary for security, Francisco Guterres.
Nepotism allegation of employing international advisor is too political: Pires Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 26 June 2009 - Minister for Planning and Finance Emilia Pires said the allegation case of nepotism in the recruitment of legal advisors at her ministry was a political maneuver.
Pinto calls on F-FDTL soldiers to forget political parties Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 26 June 2009 - State Secretary for Defense Julio Thomas Pinto has called on the Timorese Defence Force (F-FDTL) not to affiliate with any political party and that it should not be involved in political parties.
F-FDTL command to produce internal regulation: Lere Anan Timur Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 26 June 2009 - The Timorese Defense Force (F-FDTL) Command has planned to produce an internal regulation to regulate its soldiers who are not disciplined.
PDHJ team holds a meeting with community leaders in Maubisse Radio Televisaun Timor Leste 26 June 2009 - The Timorese Human Rights and Justice Ombudsman team has held a meeting with community and local leaders in Maubisse to share information about good governance, public administration and justice for preventing maladministration and corruption.
Artwork by Arte Moris artist.
East Timor Directory - All about Timor-Leste.
Because of the lack of routine, standardized violence monitoring during all election phases (voter registration, campaigning, balloting, results) the report strongly advises caution in making broad generalizations. Nevertheless, ‘Electoral violence in Timor-Leste: mapping incidents and responses,’ launched today in Dili by ActionAid Australia (formerly Austcare) and the Small Arms Survey, provides a number of tentative findings that can inform future analysis and violence prevention efforts:
In the six elections since 1999, electoral violence was by far the most serious during the Popular Consultation, followed by the 2007 parliamentary election. Far fewer incidents were reported during the 2001 Constituent Assembly election, the 2002 presidential election, the 2004–05 suco elections, and the 2007 presidential election, though claims of intimidation and sporadic violence were recorded.
In both the 1999 Popular Consultation and the 2007 parliamentary election, reported incidents of violence peaked in the campaigning period, dropped near Election Day, and rose again during the period when results were announced.
Electoral violence can generate far-reaching effects extending beyond the violent victimization of individuals. For example, the 2007 parliamentary elections were accompanied by widespread property damage and displacement.
Timorese political party supporters, and to some extent their leaders, were frequently identified as the primary instigators of electoral violence. A major institutional hindrance to improved electoral violence prevention is the delay in articulating a legal framework to regulate electoral processes, due to lingering political differences.
A range of public, private, and civil society efforts, both formal and informal, have been undertaken to address electoral violence since 1999. These include interventions to foster social cohesion, strengthen security and oversight of elections, and improve electoral dispute resolution. Ultimately, long-term efforts are needed that combine state and non-state resources to address individual and community grievances and to diminish the incentives for recourse to violence.
The report is the third in a series of Issue Briefs released by the Timor-Leste Armed Violence Assessment (TLAVA), an independent research project overseen by the international NGO ActionAid Australia (formerly Austcare) and the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey. TLAVA provides valid evidence-based policy options to reduce armed violence for the Timorese government, civil society, and their partners. TLAVA is supported by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
The report is available in English and Tetum from www.timor-leste-violence.org.
For interview or further information, please contact:
James Scambary Timor-Leste Armed Violence Assessment Representative (Dili) +670 7306564 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Chenery Communications Specialist ActionAid Australia (Sydney) +61 (0)2 9565 9106 email@example.com
Emile LeBrun Small Arms Survey (Geneva) +31 6 4848 2004 firstname.lastname@example.org
TLAVA is a project of ActionAid Australia (formerly Austcare) and the Small Arms Survey www.timor-leste-violence.org
It is the latest in a series of corruption scandals to hit the country and, if the allegations are proven, could pose serious problems for Mr Gusmao, who has staked his reputation on cleaning up East Timor's bureaucracy and its tender system.
A spokeswoman for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the Government took allegations of corruption seriously and was working closely with the East Timorese Government to increase accountability.
"The Australian aid program to East Timor is very carefully monitored and the aid program is subject to systematic internal and external audit to prevent and detect fraud," the spokeswoman said.
A protracted dispute over the corruption charge risks creating civil disorder in East Timor if supporters of the Fretilin opposition take to the streets to protest.
According to documents obtained by Fretilin, Mr Gusmao awarded a $US3.5 million ($4.4 million) contract for rice imports to Prima Foods, a company Fretilin says is partly owned by his daughter, Zenilda.
The contract was awarded under a $US45 million Government program to import basic foodstuffs.
"This is indicating very strongly that it's a collusion, nepotism and corruption," a Fretilin spokesman, Arsenio Bano, told the ABC. "How can a prime minister sign a multimillion-dollar contract with a company that his daughter is also a shareholder?"
Mr Gusmao should step aside, Mr Bano said.
The Prime Minister's office did not return calls yesterday but the President, Jose Ramos-Horta, declined to back his political ally, saying he would not intervene in the matter.
Mr Gusmao's Government has faced a steady stream of corruption allegations.
It awarded a $US400 million contract to a Chinese Government-owned company to build two power plants without calling for open tenders. Under the deal, East Timor will import expensive and highly polluting heavy oil, even though it is rich in natural gas.
The husband of the Justice Minister, Lucia Lobato, was reportedly awarded a lucrative contract to rebuild a prison and supply uniforms for guards. Ms Lobato, who is responsible for the prison system, is suing the journalist who broke the story.
There have also been allegations of dubious contracts awarded to build patrol boats and provide luxury cars to parliamentarians without an open tender.
Since taking office, Mr Gusmao has blamed Fretilin cadres installed in the bureaucracy for being behind rampant corruption. Last year he launched an anti-corruption drive, saying: "We need to take bold action and strong measures. This is not the time for small, incremental change."
26 June 2009
Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao signed-off on a multi-million dollar Government contract to a company in which his daughter was a major shareholder.
The ABC can confirm Zenilda Gusmao is listed as a Prima Food shareholder in East Timor's 2008 business registry.
Last year, Prima Food won a Government contract to supply rice worth $US3.5 million ($4.3 million).
President Jose Ramos-Horta says it is not his business to intervene.
"In our political system, the President does not have executive authority. I cannot everyday interfere in the running of the country," he said.
"If that's what I want to do, I might as well run for Prime Minister. That is the responsibility of the Prime Minister."
The Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao is unavailable for comment.
Artwork by Arte Moris artist - Portrait of East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta.
The public has been eagerly awaiting the outcome of the Watulari case and on Monday 8/6 the Baucau District Court read out its decision. The close friends and family of the defendants were present in court, and PNTL and UNPOL officers were on standby to deal with any disturbances or undesirable incidents. JSMP noted that in addition to the close friends and family of the defendants, several observers from international and national NGOs were also present. These observers arrived several hours early in anticipation of the announcement of the decision. As this is a serious matter, a wide range of people have been focusing on the case
The 4 page sentence was read out by presiding judge Edite Palmira in Tetum to the five defendants who were sitting in a row facing the panel of judges. The decision referred to the facts revealed during the trial and testimony provided by the parties and witnesses. The aforementioned facts found that some of the five defendants were involved in a riot in Viqueque that resulted in the burning of hundreds of houses and other significant losses of property. As a result victims suffered other material losses and some had to flee to safer locations.
In the decision the court also mentioned that on 8 August 2007 the defendants were moving around the scene of the crime and inciting others to burn houses and damage the property of others.
However, in the end the court could not prove that all of the five defendants damaged property and committed arson during the Viqueque incident. The court was only able to conclude that three of the defendants had been found guilty as the main perpetrators in this case. Therefore, the court decided to sentence the defendants LP, MG, and D to three years imprisonment. The other defendants HC and GD were acquitted from all charges related to this case.
All of the defendants had been charged by the Public Prosecutor pursuant to two articles, namely Article 170 and Article 187 of the Indonesian Penal Code. However after completing the trial the panel decided to dismiss article 170 because the actions of the defendants did not fulfill the elements of the criminal act set out in the aforementioned article. Therefore, the court only referred to Article 187 of the Indonesian Penal Code in relation to the sentencing of the three convicted persons.
JSMP monitored this case and believes that the decision is more lenient that the recommendation of sentence made orally by the public prosecutor during the last hearing on 6 May 2009. During the last hearing the prosecutor asked the court to sentence the defendants GD and D in accordance with the severity of their crime, and recommended a sentence of no less than five years and six months imprisonment, and also recommended that the remaining defendants be given more lenient sentences not in excess of 5 years imprisonment.
In addition to the three year imprisonment handed down against the aforementioned defendants, the court also ordered them to pay court costs of $ 5. After hearing the decision the defendants left the court room and spoke with their lawyer Dr. Arlindo Sanches and were advised to return to their respective homes.
JSMP has not yet confirmed if the convicted persons intend to lodge an appeal or if they will accept the three year sentence. On the other hand, JSMP believes that the public prosecutor is not really satisfied with the decision. If so, the public prosecutor has an opportunity to lodge an appeal against the court’s decision.
On the same day the court also read out a decision in a case of attempted murder committed by the defendant JD against the victim ……
Judge Ana P informed the defendant that the court had decided to acquit the defendant because during the trial the defendant, victim and witnesses had not provided any testimony. Rather they had chosen to remain silent and therefore the court could not obtain any evidence during the trial. This does not mean that the defendant did not carry out an act of violence against the victim, but the court had to conclude that no reliable evidence had been produced to convict the defendant. Therefore the court acquitted the defendant and also took into account the fact that this case had exceeded the statute of limitations and had been pending for a long time.
A hearing in criminal case No. 19/Crm.S/09/TDB involving the defendant MD and others was postponed because the main perpetrator was unable to attend. The court was informed in advance about the reasons why he could not attend this hearing that had been scheduled to hear the court’s decision.
On Tuesday 9 June the Baucau District Court was in session for a very long time to hear four cases that were scheduled on the aforementioned date. JSMP observed that according to the court schedule, one case was supposed to start at 9.30am however it was delayed until 11.50am because the judge did not arrive on time. The other three cases were scheduled one after the other for the afternoon, namely 2pm, 2.30pm and 3.15pm.
In a case of maltreatment committed by the defendant AA against the victim MS the public prosecutor charged the defendant as the main perpetrator for violating Article 351 of the Indonesian Penal Code which carries a sentence of 2 years and 8 months jail. However, after hearing testimony from the defendant, the presiding judge immediately ended the hearing because the judge felt that this testimony was sufficient. The trial was adjourned until 15/6 to await the results of an agreement made by the victim and the defendant. The court will decide if this agreement can be legally validated in accordance with the new Timor Leste Criminal Code which entered into force on 8 June.
In the case of the defendant M and others, the court decided to acquit the defendants from criminal charges because they had not been proven guilty. The judge stated that the defendants had all chosen to remain quiet during their trial. The victim who was presented to the court also remained silent. Therefore it was difficult for the court to gather evidence during the trial to establish if the defendants were guilty or not.
In addition to the two cases mentioned above, another case involving a minor criminal offence was also scheduled for the same day. The defendant was charged by the public prosecutor for being in possession of a bomb that nearly took the life of the defendant himself. According to the indictment read out by the judge the defendant exploded the bomb near his house and the defendant suffered serious injuries. However the defendant testified to the court that he found the item on 16/6/08 near his plantation which is located some distance from the community. When he saw the item he took it to his house and placed it in a cave near his home, but he did not report it to the authorities or anyone else. The bomb exploded because of the actions of the defendant himself, because he was trying to cut the bomb with a saw so that he could use it to bomb fish in the ocean. However the bomb suddenly exploded and the defendant was injured. He suffered a serious injury to his right leg and left arm which is now paralyzed.
In his final recommendation the public prosecutor suddenly requested for the court to acquit the defendant, perhaps out of sympathy for the defendant who has been paralyzed and disabled. The lawyer for the defendant did not say much, only that he agrees with the prosecutor and asked for the defendant to be acquitted.
Note: A witness summoned by the court did not testify in this case because the summons was not sent to the right person, and the witness who was summoned was not at the scene of the crime when the incident occurred. The witness who appeared in court explained that he did not witness this incident because he was not there and did not manage the crime scene. He added that an UNPOL officer and another PNTL officer should have been summoned as witnesses because they managed the crime scene and took the defendant to the Baucau hospital.
JSMP believes that the public prosecutor did not conduct a thorough investigation to ascertain which witnesses could provide accurate testimony in this case. This type of mistake can prevent the court from obtaining credible evidence to establish the truth in criminal matters.
Investigations and other efforts to reveal the material facts of a matter need to be carried out thoroughly and in a precise manner to avoid mistakes that can render a court’s decision null and void. Witness testimony is an integral part of gathering evidence to charge a defendant based on the material facts of a matter. As no witness provided testimony in this case the court decided to acquit the defendant from all charges, despite the fact that the defendant was in possession of goods prohibited by law as set out in UNTAET Regulation No. 15/2001, Section 4 (7) which strictly prohibits civilians from possessing guns or explosives.
NB: decision - 15/6
In this criminal case of murder the defendant S was charged by the public prosecutor for violating Article 342 of the Indonesian Penal Code for killing her own child. However Article 342 was replaced with Article 338 on murder. Previously the public prosecutor had charged the defendant in this case with the crime of infanticide for taking the life of her legitimate offspring.
However, after hearing testimony from all of the parties, including witnesses, it was not proven during the trial that the actions of the defendant constituted infanticide as originally suspected. Therefore the judge concluded that the elements of Article 342 had not been fulfilled and therefore this article was replaced with Article 338 of the Indonesian Penal Code on murder with a 4 year prison sentence.
JSMP believes that the aggravating circumstances were that the defendant killed her own child who was her legitimate offspring and did not express regret for her actions. After reading out the decision the defendant met with her lawyer to seek an appeal because the defendant believed that the decision was too heavy.
The Baucau District Court on Wednesday 10/6 held a hearing in a case involving the defendant and others who were charged with damaging private and public property on 16/11/2009 at approximately midnight in Waikua, Vemasse. The Defendant C burned down a primary school building, a traditional house a fishermen’s hut on the beach and one training centre at midnight. According to court testimony provided by the defendant he committed these acts because $100 was stolen from his wallet by an unknown person.
The public prosecutor charged the defendant as the main perpetrator in this case. The defendant admitted that he burned the four houses in question because he had lost some money. He also clearly stated that after committing the arson he ran to the forest and spent one night there and the following morning he went to the home of his brother and handed himself into the police.
The victims did not provide testimony that supported the charge because at the time of the event they were in another location and not at the scene of the crime. Only the witness SP told the court that he and four friends saw the defendant burning the houses. However the witness said that he only saw the defendant burn the training centre near his house. The witness then said that after the defendant burned that building he fled to the forest and the witness and his friends could not catch him. The public prosecutor charged the defendant under Article 187 of the Indonesian Penal Code which carries a maximum penalty of 12 years jail.
In his final recommendation of sentence the public prosecutor said that there was no doubt that the defendant had burned the four buildings, because the defendant had admitted his actions in the first hearing and the present hearing. The defendant’s motivation was because he had lost $ 100 from his wallet, but based on his own testimony he did not know who had taken his money.
Therefore the public prosecutor entrusted the court to carefully consider the facts before issuing a decision that upholds the interests of justice.
The defence echoed the request of the public prosecutor.
Baucau 23/6/09, 2pm.
The public prosecutor charged the defendant CX under Article 351 (1) because the evidence in this criminal matter demonstrated that the defendant had slashed the victim C and had severed his ear. The incident was triggered by a trivial incident at the scene of the crime in Wailili village when the victim called out to the defendant who was taking five coconuts (unclear who they belonged to). Suddenly the defendant reacted angrily and cut of the ear of the victim. After the incident the defendant was immediately taken to the Baucau Police Office. After hearing testimony from both parties it appears that there was absolutely no motive for the criminal act of the defendant.
One fact that emerged during this trial deserves special mention. Namely, when the defendant handed himself in to the police station and was taken to Baucau hospital for medical attention the police officer who accompanied him told the medical staff not to attend to the defendant because he was a suspect in a criminal case of maltreatment. Therefore the defendant was not given assistance like other patients.
Oral recommendation of sentence:
In his recommendation of sentence the public prosecutor stated that he had serious doubts about the truth of the testimony provided by the defendant. He admitted a number of things but did not speak frankly during the trial about other facts. Therefore the public prosecutor requested for the charge to be maintained, namely Article 3.3 of the new Criminal Code which carries a minimum sentence of two years jail.
At this stage an argument occurred between the prosecutor and the legal representative of the defendant. The argument related to the fact that two lawyers were defending the defendant, which the public prosecutor Jose Ximenes thought was abnormal. The prosecutor took issue with the teaming up of a public defender and a private lawyer to provide a legal defence to the same defendant. The prosecutor believed that the two lawyers serve different functions, and therefore it is inappropriate for them to provide representation in the same case. JSMP believes that the debate between these two court actors which resulted in the final plea being adjourned was inappropriate. The public prosecutor should have made a request to the judge to carefully consider the circumstances and authorize one lawyer to defend the defendant based on a court mandate previously issued to the said individual. The judge handling this matter did not pay sufficient attention to the representation of the defendant during the trial. In principle the court must appoint a lawyer, either a public defendant or private lawyer, to represent a suspect or defendant. The debate occurred because insufficient attention was given to how authority was delegated in the handling of this case.
As a result of this debate the judge halted proceedings and announced that the final recommendation of sentence and final plea would be continued on 23/6.
On the same day the court decided a minor criminal matter involving the defendant M and others by validating an amicable settlement reached between the defendant and the victim that was made before village elders, village authorities and other witnesses. The validation of the settlement reached by the parties was made pursuant to the new Timor Leste Criminal Code which allows for minor criminal matters to be settled amicably, however such settlements must be validated by a court to provide evidence that the matter has been settled in accordance with the law.
For more information please contact: Luis de Oliveira Sampaio Executive Director of JSMP Email: email@example.com Landline: 3323883
Image added by ETLJB: Artwork by Arte Moris artist.
East Timor Directory
Erich Steiner, 80, was stopped at Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport and escorted to the back seat of a waiting pickup by two female police officers, an AFP reporter witnessed.
He had earlier been seen visiting a travel agency in the Colmera neighbourhood of Dili, police said.
Steiner, who was initially arrested on Sunday, bought a ticket for Bali departing later Thursday, an agency employee said.
The German made it as far as the airport departure lounge while police waited for the court go-ahead to stop him leaving the country.
Steiner attended his first court hearing Tuesday and was ordered to report to Dili police once a week while the case is investigated, a court source said.
Prime Minister Gusmao signed-off on a multi-million dollar government contract to a company in which his daughter was a major shareholder.
An investigation by ABC's Radio Australia has found Prima Food last year won a government contract to supply rice worth $US3.5 million ($4.3 million).
Zenilda Gusmao, the prime minister's daughter, is listed as a Prima Food shareholder in East Timor's 2008 business registry.
Radio Australia has also confirmed that the wife of another senior minister has profited from government tenders.
The country's procurement law bans "agents of the administration", politicians and bureaucrats from awarding government contracts to businesses associated with close family members.
The deputy leader of the opposition Fretilin party, Arsenio Bano, alleges it is a blatant example of corruption in the Prime Minister's Office and called for the Prime Minister's resignation.
"It's absolutely a strong indication of corruption, he has violated Timor Law, and before it goes to the courts the prime minister should resign," Mr Bano said.
Mr Gusmao was unavailable for comment.
The Prime Minister's daughter, Zenilda Gusmao, declined to comment.
However, a spokeswoman for the government confirmed to Radio Australia that Zenilda Gusmao was a shareholder of Prima Food.
In a statement, the spokeswoman said: "The government has always been transparent on these contracts and went to enormous lengths to establish a fair and equitable environment for the private sector".
Mr Bano says he has approached the government on a regular basis since December last year, seeking information about companies linked to people related to ministers, but the government refused to supply the information.
"Even when we ask for a simple request, such as a request about how much rice is being transported into Timor ... they ignore Parliament," he said.
More government links
Zenilda Gusmao is not the only businesswoman in East Timor with a close relative in government.
Kathleen Goncalves, wife of East Timor's Minister of Economic Development, Joao Goncalves, is connected to at least three companies that have been awarded multi-million dollar government contracts approved by the Prime Minister.
Those three companies connected to Kathleen Goncalves: United Foods Lda, Belun Feto Lda (both listed under Kathleen Goncalves' Chinese name, Fon Ha Tchong) and Tres Amigos were last year awarded more than $US11 million worth of government contracts.
Mrs Goncalves declined an invitation to be interviewed, but in a statement a spokeswoman for the East Timorese government defended her involvement.
"She (Kathleen Goncalves) has been in business in Timor since 1999 importing rice and was an authorised vendor for previous governments [sic], including the Fretilin Government and the Gusmao Government," the statement said.
Joao Goncalves says he did not know the names of his wife's companies or which ones had secured multi-million dollar government contracts.
The companies connected to Kathleen Goncalves, along with Prima Food, are listed on a government list of 16 businesses that last year secured government rice contracts worth $US56 million.
That money came from the country's Economic Stabilisation Fund and was distributed as part of food security measures aimed at ensuring the population had sufficient rice supplies.
Mr Gusmao played a key role in his country's 25-year struggle for independence from Indonesia.
He became East Timor's first president in 2002 and was elected Prime Minister in 2007.
Image added by ETLJB: Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao
By Silas Everett and Butch Ragragio Silas Everett is The Asia Foundation’s Country Representative in Timor-Leste and Butch Ragragio is Chief of Party for the USAID-funded local governance, elections, and civil society project. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.
It's a sunny day and the wind is blowing in off the sea from the port in Dili. Behind the government palace, the white, octagon-shaped parliament building shines in the hot, tropical sun. Outside the parliament – a few pick-up trucks, then a taxi, drives by some sauntering pedestrians.
In front of the Parliament stands Senor Jose Barreto amid a group of university students smoking cigarettes, one of whom is text messages on his phone. Senor Barreto is Chief of Lauhata Suco. Suco is a term that describes a traditional administrative unit of governance and is often translated into English as “village.” In practice, however, Suco means more than that: it is an administrative unit that has been the main local governing structure for the majority of East Timorese for at least five centuries.
While Timor-Leste, newly-independent, rebuilds itself, state services are still far from the reach of many. Chiefs of Suco, like Senor Barreto, find themselves organizing road maintenance, planning for water and irrigation, enforcing local rules on use of common land, including forests, and settling local disputes that depend on their good counsel. Yet Senor Barreto's activities are not planned or resourced through the state budget. Because there is no decentralized budget and planning authority, Senor Barreto must appeal to ministry officials in the country’s capital, Dili, for his Suco's resources.
Senor Barreto has come to Parliament for a public hearing on a set of laws that could change all that. In early March, the Council of Ministers of Timor-Leste approved four draft laws on decentralization. However, the draft laws themselves fall short of the kind of decentralization that Senor Barreto had hoped for.
The draft laws call for a strong central government with nominal powers for local government and give the central government control over everything the local government does, including the legislative assembly. And the central government proposes to retain the power to review all the legislative assembly’s decisions.
Perhaps worse, the draft laws have no provisions for Suco representation in the local government. This means that Senor Barreto would not be able to address the concerns of his constituency in Timor-Leste's national budgeting and planning process.
The government's ruling coalition had every reason to expect quick passage of the draft laws on local government: they hold the majority in parliament and, as September's local elections loom closer, pressure is mounting on the legislature. Parties within the ruling coalition pushed for a one day public consultation to cover a total of 84 pages of legal text in Portuguese. But public consultations are always a challenge, even moreso in a place where almost half the population has not finished any formal schooling and less than seven percent of the public speak Portuguese.
Timor-Leste's independence has given Senor Barreto and the country's citizens a glimmer of hope. According to the nation's new Constitution, bills — such as the laws on decentralization – require approval from the National Parliament before becoming law. The Constitution also states 'on matters of territorial organization, the State shall respect the principle of decentralization of public administration.'
However, Timor-Leste, like many new democracies in Asia and around the globe, is constrained by the lack of knowledge, independence, and power in the legislature to judiciously provide the checks and balances on the government to adhere to the Constitution.
Senor Barreto – with more than a hundred other Chefe de Sucos and scores of civil society representatives – attended the public consultations on the bills. The public seating in the plenary hall of the parliament was packed. In total, almost 400 Suco officials and civil society representatives attended the three sets of public consultations, the largest turnout for any such public hearing in Timor-Leste to date.
Adino Cabral of Lao Hamutuk, a Timorese non-governmental organization (NGO), spoke about how unclear the draft laws were on the purpose and functions of the proposed local government and lamented the weakness of its legislative assemblies to the point of calling these 'rubber stamps'.
Dinorah Granadeiro of Fongtil, Timor-Leste's umbrella organization for NGOs, insisted on greater and stronger women representation in the draft law.
For the Chefe de Suco in Baucau District, it was his first time to be invited to such an event. He stood and just thanked the Parliament for allowing him to participate.
While the public consultations' long-term impact on decentralization is unknown, the immediate impact is certain: the ruling coalition has agreed that more time is needed for sufficient deliberation of the draft laws.
As for Senor Barreto, he is watching the government and the draft law to see if his voiced opinions will be incorporated into the final drafts. 'A lot is riding on this,' he said. 'It's a matter of whether the people will rule the state or whether the state will rule the people.'From: http://asiafoundation.org/in-asia/2009/06/24/decentralization-in-timor-leste-whats-at-stake/
The Council of Ministers held a meeting on Wednesday, 24th June 2009, in its room in the Government Building, Dili where it approved:
1. Decree-Law that changes the Legal Regime of the Notary
Five years after the publication of the Legal Regime of the Notary, and in an attempt to harmonise the language and the technical terms in order to help in the interpretation to the ones that apply the law. Some changes have been proposed to simplify and legitimise administrative procedures, as well as the introduction of justification and acquisition mechanisms for fixed assets, as well as the authorisation for temporary notarial activity for non Timorese notaries.
This Decree regulates the intervention of the notary in actions subjected to restrictions and prohibitions, and it also establishes criteria to avoid the adoption of different procedures in each notary office.
This decree, since there not enough technical staff in the notarial and registry areas, notaries from civil law countries are authorised to practice in Timor-Leste.
These changes legitimise several practices which are in force and make the notarial regime compatible with the national reality, and by doing this implementing one of the goals of the IV Constitutional Government, i.e. the consolidation of the notary and the access to justice.
2. Decree-Law that creates the Notarial Regulations
The Legal Regime of the Notary establishes the political orientations for the notarial system in Timor-Leste and bestows upon the Government the responsibility to regulate the political orientations defined in this legal diploma. Thus, the diploma regulates the Legal Regime of the Notary, more precisely their writing, keeping and archiving, the notary acts and the issuing of copies and certificates.
It is also important to mention that is was drafted based on the legal system applied in the country as well as based on the laws that are already in force . These are related to the Civil Procedure, Commercial Societies and Commercial Registry, the Legal Regime for Non Profit Organisations and the draft for the Civil Code.
With this law we intend to use IT means as a way to streamline the feedback that is to be given to users electronically.
The Council of Ministers also analysed:
1. The Ministerial Diploma that creates the Social Electricity Tariff
The members of the Council of Ministers had the opportunity to consider the creation of a social Electricity Tariff, since it is common practice to have subsidised electricity in the most needy countries. In these countries the State contributes to the energy costs, thus benefiting society .
The floating liquefied natural gas specialist said in a statement that the acreage, which includes the Chuditch-1 gas discovery that was drilled in 1998, could hold enough gas to support a FLNG project.
Licence JPDA 06-101(A) lies in the Joint Development Area between Timor-Leste and Australia in the Timor Sea.
Flex LNG said it will select one or more partners with suitable upstream experience to develop the acreage.
Company chief executive Philip Fjeld said the deal gave Flex LNG an attractive project close to the major Asian LNG demand centres.
"This project furthermore complements FLEX LNG's project portfolio and we will immediately start a selection process in order to secure a strong partner or partners to further develop the acreage towards a floating LNG project," he added.
Flex LNG, which was established in 2006 with the objective of commercialising the world's first floating liquefaction units (LNG producers), currently has four ships incorporating liquefaction units being built in South Korea.
Fretilin said today the court had rejected its arguments, and the party would respect the decision and comply with it.
Fretilin said that respecting court decisions and complying with them "without fuss or complaint is an important way of entrenching the rule of law in Timor-Leste's young democracy and justice system".
"It shows once again that our courts are independent and credible. This ruling cements that reputation," said the party.
However, Fretilin continued "to have grave concerns about the lack of transparency of the decree law" that led to the creation of the National Petroleum Authority, and that Fretilin would review and amend the law "at the first opportunity".
The National Petroleum Authority is the regulator of all oil and gas activities in East Timor's sovereign areas and in the joint petroleum development area shared with Australia.
The body was set up last June to replace the Timor Sea Designated Authority and the East Timor regulator.
25 June 2009
In accordance with a schedule of hearings prepared for the Suai District Court, a case of attempted murder (14/C.ord/TDS/2008) was scheduled to be heard on 10 June 2009. However, the hearing was postponed because the prosecutor handling the case was a relative of the defendant (the defendant is the nephew of the prosecutor) which under article 51(a) of the Criminal Procedure Code renders the Prosecutor ineligible to act. Under section 39 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code, judges are disqualified from hearing any case in which they are related to a party appearing before the court. Article 51 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code states that “the provisions concerning disqualifications and suspicions in respect of judges are applicable to public prosecutors, with the necessary adaptations”.
A prosecutor based in Dili was appointed to replace the initial prosecutor, but was unable to travel to the Suai District Court due to ill health. JSMP observed that the defendant, victim and witnesses nonetheless arrived at the court to attend the hearing, but were informed by the administrative officer on duty that the trial had been postponed. JSMP spoke to a court clerk on duty and asked when the case would be heard, but the court clerk said that no schedule had yet been set, and that it would depend on the availability of judges, who are predominantly based in Dili.
JSMP notes that a limited number of court actors (prosecutors, judges and public defenders) are assigned to district courts other than Dili, and that trials are often postponed or adjourned when a court actor unexpectedly withdraws from a case before the courts. JSMP strongly recommends that a greater number of court actors must be made available to work in the district courts, so that they can readily respond to unforeseen problems that emerge.
JSMP is also concerned about a complaint made by a court clerk regarding the limited number of administrative staff available to deliver court summons to the districts of Bobonaro, Same, Ainaro and Suai, all of which fall within the jurisdiction of the Suai District Court. JSMP recommends that the Ministry of Justice immediately recruit more staff to streamline the process of case management at the Suai District Court.
For more information please contact: Luis Olivera Sampaio Executive Director of JSMP Email: Luis@jsmp.minihub.org Landline: 3323883